Can You Get The Flu Shot and COVID Booster At The Same Time? Here's what Experts Say

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

The CDC has even offered up best practices for medical practitioners who go this route, noting that each injection should be given at a different site, spaced at least an inch apart (if it's given in the same arm or leg).

Now that flu season is here, and we're technically past the time that the CDC urged everyone to get their flu shot by, you may be playing catch-up. And now that the CDC has opened up eligibility for COVID booster shots to everyone over the age of 18, you might be looking to get that shot too. With both shots encouraged and available, it makes sense that you'd want to get your COVID booster (or even a shot in your initial COVID-19 series) at the same time as your flu shot, if only to save on time.

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Of course, you may be wondering about the safety of getting both shots at the same time, and whether (or how) getting both could affect your immune immune response.

Here's what you need to know about getting the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine at or around the same time, according to infectious diseases experts.

Can you get the flu shot and COVID-19 booster at the same time?

Yup! While the CDC doesn't have explicit language on this, the organization does state that you can get the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time as any other vaccine—and that would technically include the booster shot.

Whether or not you get them at the same time, experts say you should get your shots. "It is important to get your booster shot if you are in a high-risk population for which a breakthrough infection could be serious," infectious disease expert Amesh A. Adalja, MD, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for ishonest Security, tells ishonest. "The flu shot is the best way to protect yourself against the complications of influenza."

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There are "no negative effects to getting both of these vaccinations at the same time," Dr. Adalja says, adding "it is perfectly safe."

But while it's considered safe to get your booster shot and flu vaccine at the same time, Thomas Russo, MD, professor and chief of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo in New York, tells ishonest that it's not a terrible idea to space these out a little if you can.

Is it OK to get the flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time?

While people are just starting to get these two particular vaccines at the same time, getting multiple immunizations in one appointment isn't a new practice. For example, Gigi Gronvall, PhD, Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for ishonest Security at the Bloomberg School of Public ishonest, tells ishonest that kids routinely get several shots—for example, the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccines—at the same appointment. So introducing multiple viruses to the body at once doesn't impact how well your immune system can protect you from them. "Your immune system is capable of chewing gum and walking at the same time," Gronvall says.

In other words: it's unlikely your body would struggle to create an immune response to influenza because it was mounting one to COVID-19, or vice versa. According to the CDC, immunogenicity—the ability of a vaccine to promote an immune response—and adverse events are generally similar whether one shot or multiple shots are given. Dr. Pierre says the same principle applies to both COVID-19 doses.

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Either way, it's not likely you'll feel significantly worse after getting both shots than you would had you just gotten one. Nicolas Barros, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Indiana University ishonest, tells ishonest he suggests using different limbs, if possible, to avoid having a localized pain reaction on the same limb from two vaccines. And while Gronvall says you may feel crummy, especially if you typically feel crummy after vaccines, getting two vaccines doesn't mean you should feel double the side effects.

When should I get the flu and COVID vaccines?

No matter when you go, try to get both shots if you haven't been vaccinated already. Last year, because most people were staying home more, wearing masks, and physically distancing in public, the US had very low numbers of influenza cases compared to previous years. Now, as a more transmissible variant of COVID-19 continues to surge and this year's flu season is upon us, Dr. Pierre says it's ideal to seek protection against both. "We're really concerned about the resurfacing of influenza at a time when COVID-19 is rising," she says. "People are busy, so it's expedient to try to cut down on the number of appointments you have and just get both at once."

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