“Should I get my flu shot and my Omicron booster at the same time?  and other fall vaccine questions, answers

“Should I get my flu shot and my Omicron booster at the same time? and other fall vaccine questions, answers

With flu season approaching, plus the possibility of a new wave of Covid cases this fall, many Americans are wondering two things: when is the best time to get a flu shot – if there is one – and is it acceptable to double down and receive both? the seasonal flu vaccine and the new omicron-specific Covid-19 booster at the same time?

Although the CDC says it’s completely acceptable to get the flu and Covid-19 vaccines at the same time, there were no specific guidelines regarding the newly formulated booster.

Yet pharmacies like Walgreens and CVS offer the vaccines as a package, and people have already started getting vaccinated with both vaccines at the same time.

But not all public health experts believe that’s the best approach, especially given the average flu vaccination schedule the United States has followed since before the pandemic, says Theodora Hatziioannou, a virologist and associate professor at Rockefeller University.

“For the average person, it would probably be better to have it a bit later,” Hatziioannou says, “I’m definitely waiting.”

‘When should I get the flu shot?’

The timing of your flu shot should align with the timeframe that would allow you to have the best antibody response at the start of flu season, Hatziioannou told CNBC Make It.

It’s important to look at data from the past few years, before the pandemic, in your area to determine when cases historically begin to rise in your community, Hatziioannou says.

The general rule is to get vaccinated four weeks before the start of flu season to get the most protection, because that’s when you’ll have the best antibody response, he notes. she.

“In New York and several other areas with the same geographic latitude, flu season typically begins in December and lasts through March,” she says, “So if you have it [the flu shot] now, end of September or [early] October, your peak antibody responses will be in November. It’s a little too early.”

Currently, Hatziioannou recommends getting the flu shot in late October or early November for the best protection throughout December.

And the protection provided by the vaccine usually declines over time, so if you get the vaccine too soon, you might have fewer antibodies by the end of the flu season, she says.

“The only thing I would say is this year I would definitely get both shots because the combination could be quite nasty,” Hatziioannou said.

“You don’t want to get the flu while Covid is going around, and you don’t want to get SARS-CoV-2 while the flu is going around. I can imagine a double whammy would be really terrible.”

“Should I get my flu shot and my Omicron booster at the same time?

There’s no specific reason why you can’t get your omicron booster at the same time as your flu shot, says Mark Conroy, an emergency physician at Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University.

“In terms of the side effects of the specific omicron vaccine and the flu vaccine, there haven’t been any studies looking specifically at those two together,” says Conroy, “But there have been studies on the previous booster with the flu shot, and there really was no negative effect of having both shots at the same time.”

And if you’re worried you won’t be able to find availability later in the year to get your flu shot, Conroy encourages you to double-date.

“If you don’t get them at the same time, what’s the biggest risk? And the risk is just forgetting to get your flu shot later,” he says, “If you have the chance, do obviously get vaccinated rather than not getting vaccinated.”

But, if you can wait for your flu shot, he recommends getting it until mid-October or early November, as Hatziioannou suggested.

“From an omicron recall standpoint, my recommendation is that people should just get it as soon as they are able. Covid is pretty much around and making people sick,” he says, “September is a bit early for the flu shot. I usually recommend getting it a bit later in the fall.”

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