With flu season fast approaching and new COVID-19 boosters being made available, some people on social media have wondered if they can get the updated, or bivalent, COVID-19 booster shot with an omicron component and the flu shot at the same time.
Can a person get the omicron COVID-19 booster and the flu shot at the same time?
Yes, people can get the omicron COVID-19 booster and the flu shot at the same time.
WHAT WE FOUND
Yes, you can get a flu vaccine, also known as the flu shot, at the same time you get a COVID-19 vaccine or booster shot, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says in its updated guidance about the 2022 flu season.
“It is thought to be very safe to get the omicron booster with the flu shot together for convenience,” Payal Kohli, M.D., told VERIFY.
Kohli does recommend that people get the vaccines in different arms in case of potential side effects like muscle soreness, though it’s not required.
The exact timing and duration of flu seasons varies, but flu activity often begins to increase in October, the CDC says, so it’s best to get the flu shot before the end of that month. Flu activity typically peaks between December and February, though significant activity can last as late as May.
The “sweet spot” for getting a flu shot is typically early October, Kohli said, so people can begin scheduling their vaccine appointments now.
“Since we haven’t seen much of a flu infection in the past two years, this year may be particularly severe so it is important to get vaccinated,” she said.
People who will be in high-risk situations, such as public gatherings or travel, may want to get their vaccines sooner rather than later since it takes about two weeks to generate a maximum immune response, Saralyn Mark, M.D., said.
Combining appointments for flu shots and COVID boosters could be a convenient option for many people looking to get the newest COVID booster, which recently became available.
More from VERIFY: Yes, COVID-19 vaccine boosters for omicron are available to the public
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized COVID-19 boosters shots with an omicron component from Pfizer and Moderna in late August.
The bivalent vaccines, also referred to by the FDA as “updated boosters,” add omicron BA.4 and BA.5 spike proteins to the original COVID-19 vaccine composition. This is aimed at “helping to restore protection that has waned since previous vaccination” by targeting the more contagious and immune-evasive omicron subvariants, the CDC says.
Pfizer’s omicron vaccine is authorized for use as a single booster dose in people 12 and older, while Moderna’s shot is authorized for those 18 and older, according to the FDA.
The updated boosters should be given at least two months after a person’s last COVID-19 vaccine, and at least three months after a prior infection.
“If those criteria have been met, then I would advise getting [the boosters] right away,” Kohli said.