Can you get your COVID booster and 2022 flu shot at the same time?

It’s that time of year again: flu season. The exact timing varies, but in general, cases begin to increase in October, with the peak of the season occurring in December through December. February, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And once again, not only do we have to deal with the circulation of the flu, but we’re also in the COVID-19 pandemic, which means there’s an increased risk of severe illness from both viruses as we move into the months colder. Therefore, it is doubly important that you make sure you are up to date on your COVID and flu shots. Especially now that there is a new bivalent COVID vaccine that protects against the highly contagious omicron variant.

Can you check off two things on your to-do list at once and get these shots on the same day? Here’s what you need to know about getting the new COVID booster and the flu shot at the same time.

“There is no danger in getting the new COVID booster and the flu shot at the same time. It is safe to get both injections in one visit,” said Dr. Andy Anderson, executive vice president and chief medical and quality officer for RWJBarnabas Health in New Jersey.

If you decide to get vaccinated on the same day, one in each arm is recommended, he added.

This is beneficial because you will be protected against both viruses sooner rather than later.

“By giving them at the same time, we are more likely to ensure that people are protected against both diseases,” said Dr. Laolu Fayanju, an Ohio-based family medicine specialist at Oak Street Health. “Both influenza and COVID are circulating.”

If you get both vaccines on the same day, you’ll be protected earlier against serious illness and complications like hospitalization and death, he noted. Keep in mind that both vaccines take two weeks to take full effect.

This is important for everyone, but it is particularly important for people at high risk of serious illness, such as the elderly, people with asthma and other conditions, who need to protect themselves against both diseases as soon as possible.

Plus, you’ll only have to deal with vaccine side effects once.

“When taken together, [the new COVID booster and flu shot] they show similar reactogenicity, which means the body’s natural response to vaccines,” Fayanju said.

In other words, the vaccine side effects you probably know by now (headache, fever, fatigue, pain) are known to occur with both vaccines. If you get your injections on the same day, you’ll only have to deal with those side effects in one day instead of two.

Anderson added that “the CDC notes that the way our bodies develop protection and the possible side effects are generally similar, whether the vaccines are given alone or with other vaccines.”

This means your side effects probably won’t be worse if you get both injections on the same day, Anderson said. That said, it’s still possible to feel pretty lousy after vaccination. Make sure to hydrate, rest, and be prepared to take it easy the next day in case you wake up feeling under the weather.

Roos Koole via Getty Images

Getting a flu shot and a new COVID booster can protect you against both illnesses this fall and winter.

And you will save time.

Going to a doctor’s appointment is usually not the most exciting part of your day, and you probably have a lot of other things to do, too. But if you can get both shots at the same appointment, you’ll only have to venture to the doctor once, not twice, to get these shots.

“If we can save our patients time and make sure they get these vaccines at the same time … I think that’s a plus for the patient,” Fayanju said. And who doesn’t want to save some time when possible?

Check with your doctor about the timing of both injections.

While both experts say it’s okay to get your shots at the same time, you should still check with your doctor if you have any concerns. There are some people who may not be eligible for both vaccines yet.

For most people, the recommended time for the flu shot is September or October, Anderson said, but the recommended time for the new COVID booster depends on a few factors: First, people who recently received their COVID booster or their initial vaccine must wait at least two months to receive this new COVID vaccine. Also, people who have just had COVID can wait up to three months to receive this booster. Lastly, only those over the age of 18 can get the Moderna booster. Pfizer’s new injection is licensed for ages 12 and up.

If you fall into one of these categories, you should not delay your flu shot just to consolidate appointments. In this case, you’ll want to protect yourself against the flu first.

If you don’t fall into these categories, you can get the new booster shot now.

Keep in mind that relaxed public health precautions could mean a more severe flu season.

When we were at the height of the pandemic, flu cases were low. This likely has to do with public health measures, such as masking and social distancing, that were in place. Now that those precautions are gone in most scenarios, flu cases are likely to rise as well.

Also, Australia had a bad flu season this year and “wWe can learn a lot from how our flu seasons here in the Northern Hemisphere will play out based on what has been happening in the Southern Hemisphere,” Fayanju said.

Therefore, it would not be a surprise if we also face a difficult flu season.

“The flu kills tens of thousands of people” every year, Fayanju said. The flu shot is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from the virus.

Beyond that, COVID has killed more than 1 million Americans so far and continues to infect people daily. Being protected against these contagious strains of COVID and the flu can only benefit you this fall and winter.

Experts are still learning about COVID-19. The information in this story is what was known or available at the time of publication, but guidance may change as scientists learn more about the virus. Check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the most up-to-date recommendations.

Leave a Comment