Can I get a flu shot and a Covid-19 booster at the same time? And more answers to your flu season questions – .

Can I get a flu shot and a Covid-19 booster at the same time? And more answers to your flu season questions – .

It’s okay to get the flu shot and get the Covid-19 shot on the same day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Authorities suggest placing them in different arms, or at least an inch apart if they are in the same arm.

“Other than maybe your arm is more sore or you have two sore arms, there isn’t much interaction between the two,” says Rachel Presti, infectious disease physician at the University of Washington. in St. Louis. She has asked patients to receive both vaccines on the same day. “We know from other vaccines that generally giving them together is good. “

The timing of Covid and flu shot recalls is one of the many questions people ask their doctors as flu season approaches.
Covid-19 precautions wiped out flu cases last year, but public health officials expect the flu to return this season. Persistent weaker protection against fewer flu cases last year and higher levels of other viruses this year both signal the potential for a tough flu season.

Here’s what you need to know about flu shots, Covid-19 vaccines, and virus winter season.

Vaccination of children against Covid-19 and influenza

With the Pfizer vaccine slated to be cleared for children aged 5 to 11 in the coming weeks, doctors say this could be a good opportunity to get them vaccinated against the flu as well, if they aren’t already.

“We have so many combination vaccines, and they’re really well tolerated,” says Suzanne Kaseta, chief medical officer of Boston Children’s Health Physicians, a multi-specialty pediatric practice with about 60 offices in New York and Connecticut. “Small infants receive many vaccines on the same day. It is completely safe. The immune system can handle it.

More flu cases this year

Predicting the flu season can be as tricky as forecasting the weather, but there are several reasons some doctors believe flu cases will be higher than normal this year.

Immunity to influenza comes in two ways: through natural infection and through vaccines. Because there was so little flu last year, fewer people than usual are protected from infections last season. “There was virtually no infection last year to boost natural immunity, so we are relying on natural pre-Covid immunity,” says Richard Zimmerman, infectious disease epidemiologist and professor at the University of Pittsburgh , who works on influenza modeling.

Dr Zimmerman says models he and the university’s Public Health Dynamics Lab published in two unpaired preprints predict an increase in influenza cases this season with at least 100,000 more hospitalizations than the last. normal.

Models of other viruses also provide clues about the flu season. Andrew Pekosz, a virologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, explains that the usual progression of respiratory viruses in a population is the rhinovirus, or common cold, followed by respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, then influenza.

Flu season is approaching and health experts expect it to be worse than last year. Felicia Schwartz of the WSJ explains why it could be an earlier and more severe season and what precautions people can take during the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

“We see a lot of rhinoviruses, a lot of RSV in children, and my prediction is that we are going to see the flu come back this year,” said Dr Pekosz.

How effective are flu shots?

Getting the flu shot is an annual challenge because it’s hard to know which strains will be circulating in the coming season, and the virus is known to mutate quickly.

Still, doctors say getting the vaccine is still helpful because it offers protection against various strains that often circulate together, and it’s been shown that it can reduce the severity of illness if you still get sick.

This year’s vaccine offers protection against four strains: two influenza A strains and two B strains.

It is too early to know if this year’s flu shot matches the strains that will eventually circulate. But Lynnette Brammer, head of the CDC’s national influenza surveillance team, says the strains currently circulating are in the vaccine. “They seem to be a good representation of the viruses that exist,” she says.

Different flu shots

The CDC doesn’t recommend one flu shot over another and says get the vaccine available. Some vaccines are recommended for particular age groups, and some types should be avoided by people with certain allergies or by pregnant women, although the CDC recommends a flu shot for every six months and more, to a few rare exceptions.

Dr Zimmerman says he recommends one of the four newer vaccines for people at high risk for severe flu, such as the elderly or those with underlying health conditions.

Authorized only for the elderly, a high-dose influenza vaccine with the brand name Fluzone High Dose contains four times more inactivated antigen or virus than a regular influenza vaccine. There is also FLUAD Quadrivalent, an adjuvanted vaccine, which includes an ingredient that helps create a stronger immune response to vaccination.

For people 18 years and older who are at higher risk of severe influenza, there is Flublok Quadrivalent, which contains triple the amount of antigen. Finally, there is the Flucelvax Quadrivalent approved for use in children and adults. “Each has had a superiority over standard egg-based vaccines,” says Dr. Zimmerman.

Do I have the flu or the Covid-19?

Distinguishing between Covid-19 and the flu will be nearly impossible without passing a diagnostic test, doctors say.

“There won’t be any obvious indication, whether it’s the flu or Covid, other than getting tested,” said Peter Hotez, co-director of the Center for Vaccine Development at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

“If you’re feeling sick, we’re going to have to start testing both now,” he says. Antiviral drugs can help reduce the symptoms and severity of the flu, but are most effective when started early.

Write to Sumathi Reddy à [email protected]

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