2 shots: Answering questions about getting COVID, flu vaccines at same time

Dr. Frank McGeorge answers COVID questions

With a large number of Americans now eligible for COVID-19 booster shots, many have questions about receiving their third dose at the same time as their flu shots.

DETROIT – Since the coronavirus pandemic began, Dr. Frank McGeorge has been keeping viewers up-to-date and informed on all fronts. He’s been answering your questions about the vaccine, the vaccination process and more.

Read: More answers to questions about coronavirus

This week, Dr. McGeorge is addressing concerns about getting vaccinated for COVID-19 -- especially those eligible for boosters -- and receiving a flu shot at the same time.

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

Yes, you can get your COVID booster and flu shot at the same time.

That’s a change from the advice originally given when the COVID vaccines were introduced. At that time, it was recommended that you wait 14 days between receiving the COVID vaccine and the flu shot.

Now that we know more about the COVID vaccine’s side effects, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has given the green light for getting the COVID vaccine with another vaccine during the same appointment.

Can I get my flu shot and COVID-19 booster shot in the same arm?

Most people prefer to get the shots in different arms, but you can get them in the same arm, if you choose.

In that case, the injection sites should be separated by at least one inch.

Will I have more side effects if I get both shots at the same time?

That’s an important question, and one we don’t have a precise answer to.

My opinion is that if you are someone who usually gets a really sore arm or body aches with the flu shot, and you also had similar side effects when (and if) you got your COVID vaccine, you might feel crummier if you get them both at the same time.

But some might also argue that if you’re going to feel crummy, why feel it twice.

If I don’t want to get my flu shot and COVID booster shot at the same time, how long should I wait in between?

If you prefer to wait, the recommended time between shots is 14 days.

That was the original waiting period advised by the CDC. It is also about the time it takes for each vaccine to reach its full level of protection.

I am 71 years old and I need a flu shot, pneumonia shot and a COVID booster. In what order should I receive these vaccines?

In this specific case, I would recommend getting the COVID booster shot, then waiting two weeks and getting the flu and pneumonia vaccines at the same time.

The main reason is that while it is completely acceptable to get the COVID vaccine with one other vaccine, the effect of getting it with two other vaccines is completely unknown.

I am 79 years old and in good health, and I got my flu shot last week, per my doctor’s recommendation. He said I was to wait a month before I get my COVID booster, but I have read it could be gotten at the same time, two weeks apart or a month apart. So, naturally, I am confused. Can you explain why there are so many varying opinions on this issue?

Truthfully, I am not sure why your doctor told you to wait a month. The current recommendation is that the shots can be given at the same time.

In general, the confusion comes from the change in recommendations as more research was gathered on how people react to the COVID vaccines, and whether it was safe to give other shots at the same time. The latest consensus is that it is safe to get both shots at the same time.

The primary reason for giving two vaccines during the same visit is to improve compliance and decrease the chance that one of the vaccines gets skipped if it’s scheduled for a later date. There has not been any medical advantage to giving two shots at one time -- it is done just because it is convenient.

If you don’t want to get both shots at the same time, which should you get first?

Given that we are seeing more COVID-19 cases than the flu right now, I would recommend that you get your COVID booster right away -- but still get back to that flu shot two weeks after. We are starting to see the first local cases of the flu.

Read: Complete Michigan COVID coverage

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About the Author:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.