Can you get the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same time? This is what health officials say.
With the 2021 flu season approaching amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some may be wondering if it is OK to get a flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine booster around the same time.
Many county health departments around New Jersey have started their annual flu shot clinics.
“Every year we get the flu shot and it helps us stay healthy,” says Thomas Young of Brooklawn. “I’m 73, so I want to make it to 100.”
Camden County kicked off its flu shot season at the senior fair in Collingswood.
“With the COVID, we thought it was a better idea to get protected against this and no spread anything around,” says Robert Nemes.
But with the COVID-19 vaccine boosters available for seniors, some are wondering if they have to wait between the COVID shot and the flu shot.
When COVID-19 vaccines were first rolling out in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended waiting 14 days between the shots and other immunizations as a precaution. But the agency has since revised its guidelines and says the wait is unnecessary.
The CDC and other health experts point to past experience showing that vaccines work as they should and any side effects are similar whether the shots are given separately or in the same visit.
Cases of influenza were down last year, but Claudia Whitcraft, director of nursing for the Camden County Department of Health, says that this is no reason to skip the flu shot this year. She says that this is especially true for children. Camden County is offering the flu shot for anyone ages 9 and up.
"Last year there was some question on whether the flu strain was still around, but the truth is it was still around and we were just practicing better social distancing and washing our hands and putting our masks on,” she says. “And now the kids are in school, it is more important for them to be covered because they're all together back in the classroom."
Camden County has more flu shot clinics planned through the rest of the month.
Burlington County is hosting “Flu Shot Thursdays” by offering the vaccine at different sites through the end of the year.
The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older, and says ideally everyone should be vaccinated by the end of October. It takes 10 to 14 days for the flu vaccine to take full effect so if you wait until the flu begins circulating, your body may not have time to build up protection. Vaccine options vary by age but include several types of shots or a nasal spray version.
GUIDE: Does your child have COVID-19 or the common cold? Check the symptoms here as the school year gets underway.
One caution: COVID-19, colds and flu all share similar symptoms so if you feel ill, the CDC says to postpone a vaccination appointment until you're better to avoid getting others sick.
AP wire services contributed to this report.