Sign up for the Well newsletter, for Times subscribers only. Essential news and guidance to live your healthiest life.
Most Americans will be eligible for both the new monovalent Covid vaccine and the annual flu shot this fall. You can schedule your vaccines separately or choose to get them at the same time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is safe to get both the Covid vaccine and flu shot together.
Combining vaccines, in general, is not unusual: Children often receive multiple shots at once, said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco. Implementing the same strategy among adults can help more people get up to date on all their shots without having to make multiple visits to a doctor or pharmacy. “Convenience trumps everything,” he said.
The downsides are pretty small: Research shows that people are only slightly more likely to experience side effects like pain at the injection site, headaches, fatigue or fever if they opt for both shots at once. In one study published last week, researchers in Israel found that the incidence of side effects in people who just got the flu shot was 12.7 percent. Among those who only received the Covid bivalent booster last year, 27.4 percent experienced side effects, and of the people who received both vaccines, 27.6 percent experienced side effects. In other words, you shouldn't worry too much about feeling extra sore or sick if you get both vaccines together.
You could consider getting one shot in each arm if you want to avoid the discomfort of two needle pricks in the same arm.“It’s personal preference — there’s no medical reason to do it one way or another,” said Dr. Adam Ratner, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at N.Y.U. Langone.
Another concern is whether getting the Covid vaccine and the flu shot at the same time will negatively affect the body’s immune response to one or both vaccines. The same recent study provides reassurance there, too. While researchers did find that antibody levels against the coronavirus were 16 percent lower in people who got both vaccines compared to those who only got the Covid booster, these levels were not “substantially inferior” given the margin of error in the study’s sample size. And when the researchers followed up with participants 60 days after their vaccinations, none had gotten Covid-19.
Some experts believe that spreading out your shots might make sense if you can time them to just before each virus peaks. So while you may get the Covid vaccine this month, as cases rise in parts of the United States, you could consider waiting until later in the fall to get the flu shot. Flu cases typically peak between December and February; you can monitor flu activity in your state through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s influenza surveillance reports for more detailed information. A doctor can also help you decide the best strategy, especially if you have a high risk of severe disease or are immunocompromised.”