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COVID-19 Boosters and the Flu Shot
By DebraMcDonagh / September 22, 2021

Helpful information collected from credible sources. 

BayPath has collected reliable information from medical experts on getting your flu shot at the same time as your COVID booster. A full list of the sources we gleaned information from can be found at the end of this article. 

However, due to information on the coronavirus being updated frequently as it is, BayPath maintains that you should stay up-to-date on local COVID-19 news at mass.gov, nationally at CDC.org, FDA.gov and HHS.gov, and internationally at who.int.

What is the CDC’s current stance on getting the flu shot and the COVID Vaccine?

When the COVID-19 vaccines first came out, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended not getting other vaccines for 14 days before or after each COVID-19 dose. This advice was issued so that medical researchers had the time to ensure both vaccines would be effective and understand what side effects were likely to occur. 

However, this past May, the CDC changed this guidance after data showed that other vaccines would not interfere with the immune response of the COVID vaccine.

Documented flu cases in 2020 were very low, why is it a concern again in 2021?

COVID-19 mitigation measures such as wearing face masks, staying home, hand washing, school closures, reduced travel, increased ventilation of indoor spaces, and physical distancing likely contributed to the decline in 2020-2021 flu incidence and hospitalizations and deaths.

The Influenza vaccination itself may have also contributed to reduced flu illness during the 2020–2021 season, as a record number of influenza vaccine doses (193.8 million doses) were distributed in the U.S. during 2020-2021. 

[Source: CDC 2020-2021 Flu Season Summary]

What are the time dependencies of getting my flu shot and my COVID booster?

Medical experts say that it is essential for older adults and immunocompromised individuals to get their flu shot and COVID booster this year. The spread of the more contagious delta variant, combined with flu season set to begin, makes it an especially dangerous time for those over 65.

The timing for rolling out boosters for Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson vary, so, if a coronavirus booster is not yet available to you, experts advise that you do not postpone your flu shot. The CDC recommends you should try to get the flu shot by the end of October. 

What are the potential side effects of each vaccine?

Side effects are temporary and a sign the vaccines are working. Medical experts say that catching either COVID-19 or the flu will be far worse than any potential risk in increased side effects.

But not everyone will experience side effects, and in those that do, flu-like symptoms that resolve in a few days are most commonly reported. Interestingly, many of the side-effect symptoms for both vaccines overlap. See chart below:

Can I get both a COVID vaccine and a flu shot at the same time?

The bottom line is this is a personal choice. It is safe to get them simultaneously, but experts say that if you are typically prone to more substantial side effects when getting a vaccine, you need to factor this in when making your decision. If you decide to get them in one swoop, maybe be sure you can take a day or two off afterward if you get side effects.

It's also OK to space them out if you are concerned about side effects from two shots at once; clinicians say it's perfectly fine to space out your COVID-19 booster and other vaccines. Just remember that a delay increases the risk that you will get sick before you're protected.
 

The information presented here was sourced and correlated from the following sites:


 



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The BayPath Family Caregiver Support Program and CaregivingMetroWest.org has been made possible by funding from the Older Americans Act as granted by Executive Office of Elder Affairs. Participants may make a voluntary donation toward the cost of this federally funded service. Click here for more information.

CaregivingMetroWest.org was originally made possible, in part, by generous grants from the MetroWest Health Foundation. Additional funding support was graciously donated by Avidia Bank from 2018 – 2021.

Thank you, MetroWest Health Foundation and Avidia Bank, for enabling BayPath Elder Services to provide support and resources to family caregivers.