Even in the midst of a COVID-19 surge, flu season approaches. And since we all want to do whatever we can to protect ourselves from both the flu and COVID-19, is it okay to get both of the vaccines that help prevent those illnesses at the same time?
The answer is an emphatic yes, according to Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. And that goes for both the initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as well as the COVID-19 booster shot (if you’re eligible), Dr. Fauci said.
In a recent interview on CNN’s The Situation Room, Wolf Blitzer asked Dr. Fauci specifically whether or not it’s okay for people to get the two vaccines—and, if applicable, the booster dose—at the same time. “What you should do is get it as soon as you can and in the most expeditious manner,” Dr. Fauci said. “If that means going in and getting the flu shot in one arm the COVID shot in the other, that’s perfectly fine. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. In fact, that might make it more convenient and more likely that you would actually go get both of them if you can do it conveniently in one visit. So, whatever it takes to get both of them, go ahead and do it. If it’s one visit, it’s perfectly fine.”
Earlier on in the pandemic, when the COVID-19 vaccines were newer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised that people leave at least two weeks between those shots and other vaccines. But, as Waleed Javaid, M.D., director of infection prevention and control at Mount Sinai Downtown, told SELF previously, there’s now enough evidence—and enough information from previous vaccine combinations—for the CDC to say it’s fine to get both the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time.
“If a patient is eligible, both influenza and COVID-19 vaccines can be administered at the same visit, without regard to timing,” the CDC explains. “If a patient is due for both vaccines, providers are encouraged to offer both vaccines at the same visit.” However, that doesn’t mean you should wait for one vaccine just so you can get the other at the same time. You should plan to get your COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can and your flu vaccine (ideally) before the end of October. If it works out for you to get them both at the same time, that’s even better—and, as Dr. Fauci noted, the convenient timing might make it more likely that you’ll actually follow through and get both those shots.
Depending on your eligibility for a COVID-19 booster shot, you may want to run out and get that quickly (if you’re over age 65 or immunocompromised, for instance). Or you might want to discuss the possible risks and benefits of a third vaccine dose for your individual case with your doctor first. But everyone who’s at least six months old should get a flu vaccine. Not only will getting a flu shot help protect you and those around you from potentially life-threatening flu complications, doing so will also keep the limited supply of hospital beds available for COVID-19 patients who need them right now.
Another bonus? The other public health measures we take to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, like wearing masks and avoiding crowds, helped curb the last flu season and might do so again if we can keep them up.