Should You Get the Flu Shot and COVID-19 Vaccine at the Same Time?

Reviewed on 10/25/2021

According to CDC guidelines, it is safe to get a COVID-19 vaccine (including a COVID-19 booster shot) and a flu vaccine (flu shot) at the same time with certain recommendations in mind. This can include getting each shot in a different arm to watch for reactions.
According to CDC guidelines, it is safe to get a COVID-19 vaccine (including a COVID-19 booster shot) and a flu vaccine (flu shot) at the same time with certain recommendations in mind. This can include getting each shot in a different arm to watch for reactions.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends getting an annual flu vaccine as the best way to prevent the flu (influenza).

Does the Flu Shot Protect Against COVID-19?

  • Flu vaccines will not prevent COVID-19, but they can reduce the burden of flu illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths on the health care system and conserve medical resources to care for COVID-19 patients. 
  • In addition to a flu shot, the CDC recommends all eligible individuals be vaccinated against the virus that causes COVID-19.

Flu Shot & COVID-19 Vaccine Safety

The CDC guidelines have been updated and it is acceptable to get a COVID-19 vaccine, including a COVID-19 booster shot, and a flu vaccine at the same time with the following recommendations in mind: 

  • It is recommended that vaccines be injected into different injection sites, such as different arms or at least one-inch apart if in the same arm, so any local reactions can be differentiated. 
  • Even though both vaccines may be administered during the same visit, the recommended schedule for either vaccine should be followed: If you have not yet gotten your currently recommended doses of COVID-19 vaccine, get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon possible, and ideally get a flu vaccine by the end of October.
  • However, people with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, whether or not they have symptoms, should not receive an influenza vaccine until they have completed their isolation period.
  • Mild illness in itself is not a contraindication to receiving the flu vaccine, but people with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 should avoid exposing healthcare workers and other patients to the virus that causes COVID-19. 

Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about getting both vaccines at the same time. 

What COVID-19 Vaccines Are Available?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved one vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19: 

  • Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine 
    • May be given to individuals 16 years and older
    • Emergency use authorization (EUA) for individuals 12 years and older
    • Requires 2 shots administered 3 weeks apart

Two additional vaccines have emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for use to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2): 

  • Moderna COVID-19 vaccine 
    • May be given to individuals 18 years and older
    • Requires 2 shots administered 4 weeks apart
  • Johnson & Johnson (Janssen)
    • May be given to individuals 18 years and older
    • Requires just one injection 

Who Is Recommended to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine?

Certain groups of people who received a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine are eligible for a booster shot at 6 months or more after their initial series:

  • 65 years and older
  • Age 18 years and older who live in long-term care settings
  • Age 18 years and older who have underlying medical conditions
  • Age 18 years and older who work in high-risk settings
  • Age 18 years and older who live in high-risk settings

For people who got the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, booster shots are also recommended for individuals 18 years and older and who were vaccinated two or more months ago.

How Do Vaccines Work?

Vaccines help the body produce immunity to infection by imitating the infecting agent. Vaccines almost never cause illness, but instead boost the body’s adaptive immune function to produce T-lymphocytes and antibodies (parts of the immune system that help the body fight germs).

  • Once the simulated infection created by the vaccine goes away, the body has a “memory” of T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes that remember how to fight that infection in the future.
  • Following an immunization, it can take several weeks for the body to produce the produce T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes needed to fight infection, so it is possible a person could become infected with a disease just before or just after vaccination because the body has not yet had time to build its defenses. 

What Are Side Effects of the Flu Shot and COVID-19 Vaccine?

The data on giving COVID-19 vaccines with other vaccines, including flu vaccines, is limited, but past experience with giving other vaccines together has shown the way our bodies develop protection and possible side effects are usually similar whether vaccines are given alone or with other vaccines.

After a vaccine is administered and the body is building its defenses, people may experience mild side effects from the vaccine. This is normal and expected.

Common side effects and reactions to vaccines include:

There is a Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) in place for patients to report unexpected vaccine side effects.

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Reviewed on 10/25/2021
References
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines.html

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/season/faq-flu-season-2021-2022.htm#Seasonal-Flu-and-COVID-19

https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/p1021-covid-booster.html