With flu season starting and Covid still in the mix, when is the best time to get a Covid booster and annual flu shot? Can you get both vaccines at the same time?
Flu season is already starting and now, before the end of October, is the best time to get protected with a flu shot. The season usually peaks between December and February, often continuing until May. And yes, it is safe and convenient to get both a flu vaccine at the same time as a Covid-19 booster if it’s been at least two months since your last Covid vaccine, and you have not recently had Covid.
Anyone who has had a solid reaction to the Covid-19 vaccination in the past may prefer to get their booster on a different day since studies have shown that individuals who get both vaccines on the same day can experience a slight (8%-11%) increase in the Covid-19 vaccine side effects such as fatigue, headache, and muscle aches. However, those side effects were mild and resolved quickly. Most people experience little to no side effects with the flu shot.
If someone has just recovered from Covid, should they wait before they get a booster?
It’s best to wait three months after having Covid before getting a booster or the next Covid-19 vaccine in order to maximize immunity. Start counting from the date symptoms started or, if there were no symptoms, count from the date of the positive test results.
What can we expect this flu season?
We have the advantage of seeing how the flu season transpires in the Southern Hemisphere. Australia has just had its worst flu season in five years, so we are expecting a bad flu season here after experiencing relatively mild flu seasons during the pandemic. That’s why we are recommending that everyone over six months protect themselves with a flu vaccine to avoid serious illness.
The flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of having to go to the doctor with the flu by 40% to 60% when the vaccine viruses are similar to the circulating viruses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We also recommend that people continue to reduce their risks by avoiding close contact with people who are sick, continuing to practice frequent handwashing, and practicing other good health habits.
What is the most compelling reason to get a flu vaccine?
A flu vaccine can prevent an illness that not only makes you feel bad for a few days to a week or more but can head off complications such as bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, and worsening medical conditions such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes. It’s not always “just the flu.” According to the CDC, a 2022 study showed that a flu vaccine reduced the risk of severe life-threatening influenza among children by 75%. The CDC also pointed to other benefits of flu vaccinations, including a 2021 study that showed that among adults hospitalized with flu, vaccinated patients had a 26% lower risk of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) admission and a 31% lower risk of death from flu compared with those who were unvaccinated.
Annual flu shots are the best defense against flu-related illness, hospitalizations, and death. They are offered in a variety of locations including clinics, pharmacies, grocery stores, and the Montgomery County government.
What do you say to people who are hesitant about getting another Covid-19 booster?
Immunity wanes over time, and it’s important to stay protected from serious illness, hospitalization from Covid, and even death. Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective for everyone older than six months. It is especially important to get updated protection with a booster if you fall into a category where you may be at higher risk of complications. That includes older adults, people with disabilities, and those with diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and weakened immune systems. For more information about the Covid-19 vaccines and booster