Last year demonstrated record low numbers of flu cases thanks to a masked and socially-distancing population working in an effort to tamp down the spread of COVID-19. This year, however, public health officials are bracing for a resurgence of flu owing to relaxed guidelines.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), yes. There does not appear to be any indication of reduced effectiveness or an increased risk of side effects when both shots are administered in one visit.
In a statement, the CDC said it based the recommendation on multiple vaccine administration with other types of vaccines: “While limited data exist on giving COVID-19 vaccines with other vaccines, including flu vaccines, experience with giving other vaccines together has shown the way our bodies develop protection and possible side effects are generally similar whether vaccines are given alone or with other vaccines.”
A preprint study due to appear in The Lancet and conducted by the University of Bristol found that 97 percent of volunteers receiving a double-shot regimen would do so again in the future.
The CDC added that anyone with concerns about receiving both shots at once should speak with their doctor. In very rare cases, such as in children with immune disorders, simultaneous vaccination is not recommended, though that is usually for other types of vaccines, like PVC13 for pneumonia. Providers should use different injection sites when delivering both shots.
Getting both vaccines, experts say, will help decrease the chances of a rough winter.
“The worry is that if [COVID-19 and the flu] both circulate at the same time, we’re going to have this sort of ‘twin-demic,’” Richard Webby of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital told the Associated Press. “The concern with that is that it’s going to put extra strain on an already strained health care system.”
The COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer is recommended to people 12 and older; Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines are approved for people aged 18 and older. The CDC recommends booster shots for select groups who received the two-dose Pfizer vaccine and whose last shot came at least six months ago. These groups include people 65 and older, or 50 and older with underlying health conditions. People aged 18 and older with certain health conditions or who work in a high-risk setting can also get a booster depending on their own personal risk assessment.
For the flu, the CDC recommends everyone aged 6 months and older to get vaccinated, ideally by mid-October to prepare for the start of flu season. (The shot takes 10-14 days to take full effect.) Although it’s rare for a flu shot to be contraindicated, the CDC says you should speak to your doctor if you have an egg allergy (flu shots contain egg proteins) or have had an adverse reaction to a flu shot in the past. An egg allergy does not prevent someone from getting the shot, but discussing concerns with a health care provider is best.
[h/t Associated Press]