(WXYZ) — A rough winter may lie ahead as health experts warn respiratory illnesses could surge in the coming months. Americans are being advised to get both the updated COVID-19 booster and the flu vaccine to maximize protection.
When COVID vaccines were first approved, health officials initially recommended people wait two weeks between the flu and COVID-19 shots. And that’s because the COVID vaccines were new back then. So if people had symptoms, they would know which shot their body reacted to. But since then, there’s been plenty of research that shows it’s safe to get both shots at the same time. And I strongly recommend that folks do get both vaccines, as we could be in for a severe winter.
Why I say that is because Australia’s flu season – which is earlier than ours – was very active and they had higher-than-average peaks in cases. Most of these cases were caused by the influenza A virus H3N2. This strand can be quite hard on older adults.
However, quite a few children this season were affected in the Land Down Under. Having said all that, just because Australia had a rough flu season doesn’t mean we’ll have the same. But people should be prepared.
People should get the updated COVID-19 booster shot as soon as they’re eligible. That’s two months after getting the vaccine primary series or two months after the 1st or 2nd booster. If you were infected with the virus, you should wait three months. Getting boosted gives you much higher antibody levels and protection is expected to last longer.
As for the flu, activity typically peaks December through February but can last up until May. Studies have shown that the flu shot wanes over time, so you don’t want to get it too early. The ideal time for most people to get the shot - as was mentioned - is in October. And everyone over the age of 6 months can get the vaccine.
As for the timing, I want to be clear that you can space them out or get them together. It really boils down to when you’re eligible for your updated booster shot. I recommend you don’t wait to get both together. Unless you’re someone who really doesn’t want to make two separate appointments. The main thing is to get protected with both vaccines when it works best for you.
Additional Coronavirus information and resources:
View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.
See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.