Tips to Live By

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

Sep. 26, 2022 - Katie McCallum

It's that time of year again. Time to get your flu shot, that is.

The timing of flu season varies, but it typically starts in the fall, which is why experts recommend getting your annual flu vaccine by the end of October if possible.

If you're also in need of a COVID-19 booster, getting both shots in the same visit certainly sounds convenient — but you may be wondering if it's safe.

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

According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time as most other vaccines, including your annual flu shot. Studies uncovered no specific safety concerns of doing so and also found that getting both shots at the same time doesn't reduce the body's immune response to either vaccine.

If you are planning to get your flu shot and COVID-19 booster at the same time, here are a few things to consider:

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 COVID-19 booster.

Many people 12+ are currently eligible for the updated booster that specifically targets the omicron variant, but not all, including people who recently:

  • Received a COVID-19 booster
  • Had COVID-19

According to the FDA, you should wait until at least two months have passed since your last booster vaccination to receive the updated booster. The agency also recommends that people recently infected with COVID-19 wait at least three months post-infection before being vaccinated with the omicron booster.

If you're not quite eligible for a COVID-19 booster, don't delay your flu shot just so you can eventually time the two together.

A person who previously reacted strongly to COVID-19 vaccination may want to get their flu shot on a separate day

Studies show that the chance of experiencing side effects — fatigue, headache, muscle ache — after receiving both shots at the same time was similar or only slightly higher than when receiving the COVID-19 vaccine alone.

However, people who reacted strongly to the COVID-19 vaccine in the past may want to wait a few days in between the two shots to limit this chance.

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. It's also safe. But, if you can't make it work, don't use it as a reason to brush off getting one shot or the other.

COVID-19 has taken more than 1 million lives in the U.S. alone, and it's still causing 350+ deaths per day on average. 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 the last two seasons, 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 today than the during past two seasons, there's a valid concern that flu activity could be worse this season. Additionally, Australia — which experiences flu season ahead of us — just had its worst flu season in five years.

Staying up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccination recommendations and getting an annual flu shot 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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Categories: Tips to Live By