Better Together: How Getting Your Flu and COVID-19 Vaccines at the Same Time Can Keep You Healthy This Fall
September marks the start of respiratory infection season, which is when flu and COVID-19 cases are expected to be at their highest.¹ While anyone can face serious or long-term complications from these diseases, vulnerable populations, including older adults, children, and those with underlying medical conditions, face the greatest risk.²
The good news? The flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine can help protect against severe outcomes from each disease.³⁻⁴ Whether you are at increased risk for severe complications or someone you love is, getting protection from both diseases can help prevent the spread of infection to those who are more vulnerable.
Even better news? There are clinical data suggesting these two vaccines can be safely administered together.⁵
Read below for more from Dr. Jacqueline Miller, Senior Vice President of Infectious Disease at Moderna, who answers common questions about the CDC’s guidelines on getting your flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time, from safety to side effects.
What is co-administration?
Vaccine co-administration refers to the practice of administering two or more vaccines during the same appointment. Each vaccine is administered separately – they are not mixed in the same syringe. You can either get both vaccines in the same arm (at least an inch apart), or you can get them in different arms. Co-administration remains one of the simplest ways to stay protected against both the flu and COVID-19.
Is there any benefit to getting the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time?
Yes - beyond the health aspects, it’s simply easier! Getting both shots saves you time and an extra trip to your doctor’s office or pharmacy. It’s a common clinical practice, particularly for children and adolescents, allowing parents to schedule one appointment and get their children updated on one’s vaccines all in one go.
From a public health perspective, co-administration also lessens the burden on healthcare systems by streamlining vaccine appointments.
Is it safe to get the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at once?
Yes. COVID-19 vaccines can safely be given at the same time as other vaccines, including the seasonal flu shot.⁶ Public health authorities, including the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the World Health Organization (WHO), have also voiced support on co-administration.⁷
I’ve heard the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine can make you sick — will getting both vaccines increase the chance of this happening?
First thing’s first, it’s important to know that neither vaccine can give you flu or COVID-19. This is a common myth, but that’s not how the flu or COVID-19 vaccines work. Vaccines train your immune system to create antibodies, just as it does when exposed to a disease. When the immune response is triggered, some people do experience short-term side effects that may resemble a respiratory infection, such as muscle aches, fatigue or headaches, but these symptoms are temporary and not a result of infection.⁸
It is important to note that a CDC study published this summer showed people who got a flu and COVID-19 booster vaccine at the same time were slightly more likely (8% - 11%) to have reactions such as fatigue, headaches and muscle aches than people who only got a COVID-19 shot. But, these reactions were mild and went away quickly.⁹
Can I still get the flu and COVID-19 even if I’m vaccinated?
Yes, it is still possible to get the flu or COVID-19 following vaccination, but it is not a direct result of the shot. Even if you were to get sick, you are less likely to develop severe outcomes that could result in hospitalization.¹⁰⁻¹¹
Ultimately, staying up to date on all of your vaccinations, including COVID-19 and flu, is an important part of keeping yourself and your loved ones healthy this fall and winter. If you have questions about vaccine co-administration, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider to get the facts.
To find a COVID-19 or flu vaccine near you, visit www.vaccines.gov.
References1. https://emergency.cdc.gov/epic/pdf/2022/112922_slides.pdf2. https://www.lung.org/blog/why-are-vaccines-important3. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/vaccines-work/vaccineeffect.htm#:~:text=Flu%20vaccines%20can%20protect%20against%20more%20serious%20outcomes%20like%20hospitalization%20and%20death4. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/overview-COVID-19-vaccines.html5. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/coadministration.htm6. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/coadministration.htm7. https://apps.who.int/iris/handle/10665/3468978. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/27943189. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/prevent/coadministration.htm#:~:text=Can%20flu%20vaccines%20and%20COVID,are%20due%20for%20both%20vaccines10. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/72/wr/mm7225a4.htm#:~:text=Adjusting%20for%20calendar%20week%2C%20county,%3D%2029.1%25%E2%80%9333.2%2511. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/vaccines-work/vaccineeffect.htm#How-effective-vaccines