Flu Shot and COVID Booster

Although last year many people were spared seasonal flu and colds during the fall and winter thanks to masking, stay-at-home orders, and limited travel, this season may be a different story as people unmask and ease social distancing.  Health departments all agree that everyone over the age of 6 months should get an annual flu shot  – but what if you are due for a COVID booster at the same time the flu vaccine is available?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if you are eligible for a COVID vaccine, whether it’s your first or your third dose, you should get it even if it’s at the same time or near the same time as your annual flu shot.   The influenza shot and COVID vaccines use different mechanisms to protect an individual from serious illness; the two doses won’t counteract one another, reports the Huffington Post in a recent Wellness article. 

Moderna is working to develop a joint COVID-19 booster and flu shot which will likely appeal to people who dislike needles or are short on time for multiple visits to the pharmacy, walk-in clinic, or doctor’s office.  A global study is expected to begin by the end of 2021.

What to Expect

If you become eligible for a COVID booster shot and are due for a flu vaccine, you can expect to experience similar side effects for both including headache, fever, nausea, muscle aches, and fatigue.  Because the injection site can become sore and red with both vaccines, they will likely be delivered in different arms if done simultaneously. 

Vaccine response varies from person to person but it stands to reason that if you receive two shots at the same time, the symptoms may be a little more intense.  September and October are the ideal months to receive a seasonal flu vaccine and individuals should plan on getting their dose by the end of October.  It may not be possible to plan to receive a booster COVID shot along with the flu shot within the recommended time frame.  It is expected that in the U.S., people who are eight months out from their last dose of a COVID vaccine will be eligible to receive a booster shot within the next few weeks. 

As always during flu and cold season, and with COVID variants spreading, it’s important to continue to wash hands frequently, stay home when feeling sick, keep a safe social distance or wear masks when distancing is not possible. 

Learn more about timing your annual fall vaccines this year by following this link to the AARP’s Guide to Adult Vaccines.