Can I get the flu and COVID vaccine at the same time?

Family Health
Oct 6, 2022

Now is the time to protect yourself from both influenza and COVID-19

Flu season is here. And while COVID numbers aren’t at pandemic levels like the past two years, anyone can still get sick from the virus.

The best way to protect yourself from getting sick and suffering severe illness – get vaccinated.

“The single most effective thing you can do to avoid the flu is get vaccinated every year,” says Monica Lopez, a nurse with St. Joseph’s/Candler Occupational Health Services. “Vaccines also are an effective way to lower the risk of contracting COVID-19 and will help keep you from getting seriously ill if you do catch the virus.”

Flu and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. COVID-19 is caused by infection with a coronavirus strain called SARS-Cov-2. Flu is caused by infection with influenza viruses.

Related Article: Can I get both the flu and COVID at the same time?

So when should you get vaccinated? Now. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can get both shots at the same time. Coadministration of all recommended vaccines increases the possibility that you will be fully vaccinated, the CDC reports. Don’t worry – each injection is administered at a different injection site for patient comfort, Lopez adds.

The CDC recommends flu vaccination for everyone six-months and older between September and the end of October. The CDC recommends COVID vaccines for everyone six-months and older and boosters for everyone 18 or older or those between 5 to 17 with certain eligibilities. You can catch either virus at any time, but flu season particularly lasts from October to May.

“If flu activity is low in your community, you should not wait for a surge in cases to be the reason to get the flu vaccine,” Lopez says. “It’s also important to get the flu vaccine every year because flu viruses are constantly changing and flu vaccinations may be updated from season to season.”

Your protection from a flu vaccine also declines over time, according to the CDC, therefore making yearly vaccination important for best protection.

And if you use the excuse that the flu vaccine gave you the flu, sorry, but that’s proven invalid. The flu vaccine does not cause the flu because vaccines are made with inactivated (killed) viruses.

Some people may have mild side effects after either the flu or COVID vaccine or booster such as soreness, redness, tenderness or swelling where the shot was given, low-grade fever, headache, muscle aches and fatigue.

But a couple days of a sore arm is much better than getting either the flu or COVID. Symptoms of either virus can range from mild to severe or could lead to death, Lopez says.

Anyone can get sick from the flu or COVID, but it’s especially important for those more at risk of severe complications to get vaccinated including those 65 and older, people with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women, children younger than five and people with autoimmune diseases or weakened immune systems.

Related Article: Pregnant? Now is the time to get your flu shot.

“Getting vaccinated is a safer and more reliable way to get protection than getting sick with the virus. Vaccines help protect you by creating an antibody response without you having to experience serious illness,” Lopez says. “Getting vaccinated also protects those around you, especially people that are at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or the flu.  Also important, obtaining the vaccine limits the spread of COVID-19 and the flu in the community.”

Where to get vaccinated?

Flu shots are readily available – and oftentimes free, covered by insurance or available at a low cost – at many neighborhood pharmacies, your primary care doctor’s office and the public health department.

Related Article: Who should get the flu shot? Everyone.

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