The flu season is approaching. There is also a good possibility of another surge of COVID cases this fall and winter. The new bivalent COVID booster, which protects against the original Wuhan strain as well as the Omicron strain, is now available. Many Americans are wondering whether it is ok to get both shots at the same time.
Do you need another COVID booster?
Despite the idea that the pandemic is past us, over the past 28 days COVID has been responsible for an average of 435 deaths per day in the US. The numbers are expected to increase significantly over the fall and winter if Americans do not stay up to date on their COVID shots. I got the new bivalent COVID booster last week.
When are you up to date on your COVID booster?
You are up to date with your COVID shots if you have completed a COVID-19 primary series and received the most recent booster dose recommended for you.
Recommendations for COVID shots are based on your age, the vaccine you first received, as well as the time since your last dose. If you are immunocompromised, you have different recommendations.
Ages 12 and up can get a new bivalent booster with the added Omicron protection.
There is a good tool to determine if you are up to date on this link: Stay Up to Date with COVID-19 Vaccines Including Boosters | CDC Scroll down to “Find Out When You Can Get Your Booster”.
Can you get the flu shot and the COVID booster at the same time?
Yes. If you want to get the shots at the same time, you can. Previous studies looking at the traditional COVID booster given with the flu shot showed no negative effect from having both shots at the same time. Experts in the field agree that it’s perfectly fine to roll up each of your sleeves and get a shot in each arm during the same visit. It is recommended that you get the shots in separate limbs.
If you don’t have the time to go for two separate appointments, or just don’t want the hassle of going twice, you should definitely get them both at the same appointment.
Do you have to get them at the same time?
No. If you prefer to get them at separate appointments, that is also fine.
If you decide to separate them, you should go ahead and get the new COVID booster now, provided it has been 2 months since your last booster. Then you can schedule your flu shot a little bit later. That is what I chose to do. I had the COVID booster last week. I usually get my flu shot within the week before or after November 1st, so I will do that again this year. I have had it at the same time every year for more than 35 years straight!
The primary concern with separating the appointments is that you might forget to go back for your flu shot! If you think you might forget, you should seriously consider having them at the same appointment.
If you have any questions about the flu or COVID shots, please log into your account and send us your question. We are here to help.
Dr. Anita Bennett MD – Health Tip Content Editor