COVID-19 booster and flu shot, why do I need them both? While COVID-19 is an ongoing pandemic, communities may be on the verge of experiencing another flu season at the same time. You heard it right. It is possible for the COVID-19 virus and flu virus to spread in your community at one time during flu season. This means one person can get both COVID-19 and the flu at the same time. Flu and COVID-19 are both caused by respiratory viruses so they present with very similar symptoms. It is difficult and almost impossible to differentiate the two based solely on the symptoms. A mild COVID-19 infection can present like the flu while flu can be so severe and present like a COVID-19. The only way to know for sure is to get tested.
Like most vaccines, the efficacy may begin to reduce over time. Consequently, you will need a vaccine booster to help extend the period of protection.
Flu VS Common cold
Flu is different from a cold. They are both respiratory illnesses but are caused by different types of viruses. Influenza-type viruses cause the flu. On the other hand, viruses such as rhinoviruses, adenoviruses, parainfluenza virus, and seasonal coronaviruses cause the common cold. Do not confuse seasonal coronaviruses with SARS-COV-2, which causes COVID-19.
Since flu and the common cold have very similar presentations, it can be difficult to distinguish the two. On the whole, the flu is worse than the common cold. The symptoms begin more abruptly and are worse as compared to a common cold. Colds do not usually result in serious health problems either, such as pneumonia, bacteria infections, or hospitalisation. All in all, getting an annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu. The flu season will not wait for the COVID-19 pandemic to end. Therefore, getting both the flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine booster is the best chance to keep yourself safe and protected.
Why should you get a flu shot?
Flu can affect people in a different manner and every flu season is unlike another. Flu can mean a few days of feeling bad and missing school/work for some, or it can result in more serious illness for some unfortunate others. Severe flu can result in complications such as bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, or worsening of an existing medical condition.
Flu vaccines help to develop antibodies in our body so that we can be protected against circulating flu viruses. Experts also review and update the compositions of flu vaccines annually, because the flu viruses are constantly changing. This is why for the best protection, CDC recommends annual flu vaccination for everyone who is 6 months of age and older, with few exceptions.
Who can get the flu shot
Flu shots are appropriate for most people
- All persons aged 6 months of age and older
- Pregnant people
- People with certain chronic health conditions
- Those with egg allergic
Who SHOULD NOT get a flu shot
- Children younger than 6 months of age
- People with severe, life-threatening allergies to any ingredient in a flu vaccine
(This may include gelatin, antibiotics, or other ingredients)
- Those who have had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose of flu vaccine
- Individuals with Guillain-Barré Syndrome
- People who are presently unwell
Can a flu shot give me flu? What are the side effects of a flu shot?
No, a flu shot should not cause flu symptoms or give you the flu. Flu vaccines are produced in two ways: either with an inactivated flu virus or with proteins from a flu virus (recombinant). While a flu shot cannot give you flu illness, there are a number of side effects that you may get after your flu shot.
- Soreness, redness, and/or swelling at the site of injection
- Low-grade headache
Can I get a flu shot together with the COVID-19 booster?
Yes. It is safe to administer both the COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot at the same time. Some people may have concerns about experiencing more or worse side effects of taking multiple vaccine shots at the same time. However, according to CDC, getting multiple shots at once should not cause worse side effects.
Do I need a flu shot if I have had the COVID-19 booster? Will the shots interfere with each other?
COVID -19 and influenza are two different viruses. You will need both vaccines to stay protected from both diseases. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine will not counteract the effects of the flu vaccine and vice versa.
Why do some shots last a lifetime while others like COVID-19 and flu require a booster?
Physicians typically advise tetanus shot every 10 years, and flu vaccine annually, but the Hepatitis B vaccine comes in a 2-dose series administered over six months. Why is that? The more variants emerge, the harder it is to make a vaccine that will create ever-lasting immunity. All vaccines trigger immunity, but how long it lasts depends on several factors. One of them is the rate at which the virus replicates. If a virus replicates quickly, to produce mutation(or variants), the harder it will be for a vaccine to create lasting immunity. Like influenza (flu), every year there are multiple new strains emerging, which is why some vaccines require boosters at different times.