Flu and COVID: Can you combine the vaccines this year?

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FILE – A syringe of high-dose flu vaccine typically given to people over the age of 65 is shown Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(NEXSTAR) – Flu season is once again approaching, and COVID season never really ended. Doctors are reminding people the best way to protect themselves against both illnesses is by getting vaccinated. This year, is it OK to take care of both at the same time?

Plain and simple, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, “Yes.”

That goes for your first round of COVID shots, if you haven’t been fully vaccinated, or had your booster shot if it has been eight months since your last dose. Either way, the CDC advises health care providers it’s safe to administer both vaccines at the same time.

The vaccines will be administered in two different shots for the time being. (Moderna is working to develop a hybrid vaccine for both viruses, but the company hasn’t yet started clinical trials.)

You may be asked to roll up both of your sleeves – the CDC advises health care providers give the vaccines in different arms to avoid the injection site becoming extra sore.

The side effects associated with the flu and COVID-19 vaccines are similar. They include fever, headaches, muscle aches and fatigue. Does double the vaccines mean double the side effects? Not necessarily.

“Everybody’s response is a little bit different, but those after-effects from any vaccine are possible, and it would seem logical that if you had both of them co-administered that you might experience a little bit more of those after-effects, although that varies a lot from person-to-person,” Aaron Clark, a doctor at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, told HuffPost.

The CDC recommends getting the flu vaccine before the end of October. The agency recommends getting the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible, if you haven’t already, and getting a booster shot eight months after your second Pfizer/Moderna dose or your one Johnson & Johnson dose – once it gets approved by the FDA.

The annual flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months and older (with rare exceptions). Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for people 12 and older. Moderna and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines have emergency use authorization for everyone 18 and older.

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