How should you space out your flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster shot?

Getting flu and Covid shots
Getting flu and Covid shots
Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 7:53 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - As COVID-19 surges into the beginning of fall, many health experts are looking ahead to the possibility of a nasty flu season as well.

You could be due for your COVID-19 booster shot around the same time that the flu vaccine is being rolled out in late fall.

CDC guidance now says you can get both shots at once. However, UVA Health infectious disease expert Dr. Bill Petri says spacing them out is not a bad idea either.

“It probably is going to coincide for a lot of people that you’ll be due for your COVID booster at the same time that the flu vaccine is happening,” he said.

Dr. Petri suggests scheduling your shots for different dates in case you have an adverse reaction to one of the shots.

“Part of the reason not to get both at the same time is if you got an allergic reaction, like hives for example, we would not know is it from the COVID vaccine or is it from the flu vaccine? So that’s part of the reason not to do both at the same time,” Dr. Petri said.

Dr. Petri says, contrary to popular belief, neither the COVID-19 shot nor the flu shot are “live virus” vaccines, so there should be no concern. This year, the flu shot is quadrivalent, protecting against four strains of flu.

“There’s a little bit confusing last year because some were for three, some were for four strains, so there’s a nice uniformity there now,” Dr. Petri said.

He says it is best to get your flu shot sometime from September to November.

“I think flu is like a bit of a wild card,” Petri said. “The ideal time to get the vaccine is going to be September through November because we expect to have flu season start around Christmas or so and extend into March or April.”

Petri also urges people 65 and up to ask for the stronger flu vaccine for better protection, which he says many people are unaware of as an option.

“Every year, if you are over 65 years old, you have a 1 in 600 chance of dying of influenza and pneumonia,” Dr. Petri said. “If you’re over 65, you should get the high potency flu vaccine which has four times more vaccine in it, because it’s been shown to protect better.”

Dr. Petri says there are already millions of doses ready to go and there should be no shortage of flu shots.

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