COVID-19 Vaccine and Flu Shot Spacing: Is It Needed?
August 23, 2022
Vaccination is the best protection against COVID-19 and the flu. But if you're getting a COVID-19 vaccine -- either as a booster or for the first time -- should you worry about timing it with your flu shot? Is it OK to get both this fall? And do you have to space out a COVID vaccine and a flu shot?
With this year's flu shots also rolling out, University Hospitals infectious disease specialist Keith Armitage, MD, says it’s perfectly fine to get both shots at the same time.
“When the COVID-19 vaccines were first approved, the recommendation was to not get a vaccine two weeks before or after. The reason for this was to not confuse adverse reactions,” says Dr. Armitage, medical director of the University Hospitals Roe Green Center for Travel Medicine & Global Health. “By now there has been so much experience with COVID vaccines, this no longer applies. It is absolutely okay to get a flu shot and COVID shot on the same visit.”
Flu Season Is Coming
Health officials are warning that flu season may be more severe than normal. That’s because we haven't had much of a flu season in recent years, and our immunities have waned.
Dr. Armitage says flu shots reduce risk of getting the flu and significantly reduce the odds of getting severely sick if you do catch the flu.
“Typically, we can start seeing influenza outbreaks as early as November some years,” Dr. Armitage says. “For sure, you should have a flu shot by November.”
Flu Season Can Extend to Spring
Flu season typically peaks December to February, but the virus can circulate through May.
Flu can be especially severe or deadly to elderly adults, very young children, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all people age 6 months and older be vaccinated.
The flu shot can’t give you the flu. But side effects can make you feel mildly ill for a short time. The most common side effects from a flu shot are achiness, low-grade fever and soreness where the shot was given.
Many experts are concerned about flu cases amid a surge of infections and hospitalizations from the highly contagious COVID-19 Omicron BA.5 variant.
“The BA.5 variant is so contagious, anyone unvaccinated is likely to get sick and is at risk for severe illness,” Dr. Armitage says. “Influenza is not as serious, but can also be fatal in higher risk patients.”
Flu vaccines will be available starting mid-September – October.
Whatever your age or stage of life, prevention is the best medicine. That's why it's important to see your primary care provider for age-appropriate screenings and vaccinations that can prevent disease. Learn more.
Need a primary care provider? Use our easy online tool to find a PCP and book an appointment at a time that is convenient for you.
Tags: Coronavirus, Vaccines, Flu, Global Health, Prevention, Primary Care