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Can You Get Your Flu Shot & COVID-19 Vaccine at the Same Time?

Sep. 17, 2021 - Katie McCallum

Last flu season, we factored the COVID-19 pandemic into our prevention plans. Flu shots have always been important, but with both SARS-CoV-2 and influenza in the mix, their importance became more top-of-mind than usual.

That hasn't changed this time around — the pandemic is still ongoing (currently surging across much of the U.S.) and flu shots are, like always, important.

What is new this flu season, though, are the COVID-19 vaccines.

And whether you're planning your first dose of the COVID vaccine or your third, getting your flu shot at the same time sounds really convenient.

But is it safe to do so?

Yes, you can get your flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time

According to the CDC, "COVID-19 vaccines may now be administered without regard to timing of other vaccines."

During the initial rollout, the agency originally advised that the COVID-19 vaccine should be administered alone and a minimum of 14 days before or after other vaccinations.

This was a recommendation made out of an abundance of caution, and the guidelines have eased as experts have learned more and more about the COVID-19 vaccines.

Now, experts say: Yes, you can safely get your flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time.

But, there are a few things you might need to know if you're considering it:

Don't delay your flu shot just so you can time it with your COVID booster

Experts recommend getting your flu shot in September or October, which may or may not line up with when you're eligible for a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

People who are immunocompromised are already eligible to receive their third shot, making it fairly feasible to get it at the same time as their flu vaccine. Additionally, those over the age of 65 or high risk for severe COVID-19 may be eligible for a third dose in the coming weeks.

But, COVID boosters aren't yet readily available for the majority of people, and the timeline for this is still largely up in the air. And, even when this is approved, eight months after your second dose may not fall before the end of October.

If a third dose isn't available to you quite yet, don't delay your flu shot just so you can eventually time it with getting your COVID booster.

Don't delay getting your COVID-19 vaccine just so you can time it with your flu shot

If you're not yet vaccinated against COVID-19, get vaccinated as soon as possible — regardless of whether flu shots are available at your local pharmacy or grocery store yet or not. (Flu shots should be widely available in most areas by now, however.)

Community transmission of COVID-19 remains high across the country. By getting vaccinated, you reap all the protective benefits of immunity without ever facing the risks that come with COVID-19.

And, once flu shots are available to you, be sure to set aside time to stop by for one — ideally before the end of October.

Whatever you do, don't brush off getting either shot

Getting your flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time is certainly convenient. And, now, we know it's also safe. But, if you can't make it work, don't use it as a reason to brush off getting either shot.

COVID-19 has taken more than 650,000 lives in the U.S. alone, and there's no question that people who are unvaccinated are most at risk right now. On top of that, the CDC estimates that the 2019-2020 U.S. flu season resulted in 410,000 hospitalizations, 18 million medical visits and 24,000 deaths.

And while flu activity was unusually low last season, this was very likely due to a record number of flu vaccinations and the COVID-19 precautions that also protect us from other viruses, like influenza.

With students back in classrooms, employees back at work and mask-wearing and social distancing being less frequent now than this time last year, there's a valid concern that flu activity could be worse this season — with COVID-19 cases remaining high all the while.

Getting vaccinated against both COVID-19 and influenza are two important ways to protect yourself, as well as your community, as the pandemic collides with yet another flu season.

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