Is it safe to take the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time? Or should you wait between each shot?
Find out what the LATEST health advisory is on getting the flu and COVID-19 vaccines.
Why Take Flu + COVID-19 Vaccines At The Same Time?
Flu viruses mutate very quickly, so an annual flu vaccine is necessary to protect against the latest variants.
As it so happens, the 2021-2022 seasonal flu vaccine is being administered at the same time as the COVID-19 vaccine.
There are some advantages in getting both the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time (co-administration) :
- Convenience : It’s more convenient to get both shots in the same visit, saving you a trip to the hospital / clinic and waiting for your shot.
- Saves Money : If you have to pay for the flu and/or COVID-19 vaccines, getting them together may save you money since the doctor can administer them in the same visit. Even if they are both free, you save the expense of another trip to the hospital / clinic.
- Shorter Downtime : You will usually experience some side effects like fever, headache and muscle ache for a day or two with each vaccination. It would be better to undergo that once, instead of twice.
But people are naturally worried that the flu and COVID-19 vaccines should not be mixed, and taking them at the same time could be dangerous, or at least cause more severe side effects.
Let’s find out if that’s true…
Should You Take Flu + COVID-19 Vaccines At The Same Time?
At least two studies have shown that taking the flu and COVID-19 vaccines together is both safe and effective.
The ComFluCOV study, for example, showed that there was no significant difference in side effects or efficacy of both the flu and COVID-19 vaccines.
The Novavax study showed that there was no difference in side effects when both vaccines were taken at the same time, but there was a slight reduction in efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine (from 89.8% to 87.5%).
What those studies tell us is that it is safe to take both the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time, and they remain effective.
But either choice is really fine. If you are more comfortable taking them separately, then take them separately. But if you prefer to take them together, go on right ahead.
The key thing is to protect yourself and your family by getting vaccinated against both seasonal flu (influenza) and COVID-19.
What Experts Say About Taking Flu + COVID-19 Vaccines Together?
When the COVID-19 vaccines first came out, health authorities recommended taking them on their own, and taking the flu vaccine at least two weeks later.
This recommendation was out of abundance of caution, and not due to any known risks of taking them both at the same time.
After millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered, health authorities now know more about their safety profiles and have updated their guidance accordingly.
On 14 May 2021, the US CDC updated their guidance on the co-administration of COVID-19 vaccines with other vaccines, which includes the flu vaccine.
COVID-19 vaccines may be administered without regard to timing of other vaccines. This includes simultaneous administration of COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines on the same day.
If multiple vaccines are administered at a single visit, administer each injection in a different injection site.
American Academic of Paediatrics
On 14 May 2021, the American Academic of Paediatrics said that it supports giving childhood vaccines (including the seasonal flu vaccine) together with the COVID-19 vaccine.
On 14 September 2021, the UK Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) announced that :
On 21 October 2021, the WHO issued interim guidance on this issue, stating that :
WHO considers that coadministration of an inactivated seasonal influenza vaccine and any dose of a COVID-19 vaccine is acceptable, given that the known risk of serious illness for adults infected with influenza virus or SARS-CoV-2 is substantial.
Australian Department of Health
On 9 June 2021, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation issued updated advice on administering the flu and COVID-19 vaccines.
Instead of a 14-day gap between the two doses, they are recommending a shorter 7-day gap. But they also stated that an even shorter gap, or administering them at the same time is also acceptable.
The preferred minimum interval between a dose of influenza vaccine and a dose of either Pfizer/BioNTech (Comirnaty) vaccine or Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is now 7 days (previously 14 days).
In some situations a shorter interval (including co-administration) is acceptable.
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