A new term has been added to people’s vocabulary for 2022: tripledemic. As previously reported by the Amsterdam News, three dangerous viruses are now affecting people in the United States simultaneously: RSV, the seasonal flu, and COVID-19, creating a tripledemic of sickness nationwide. With so many viruses circulating, is it safe to get multiple vaccines at the same time? According to the experts, the answer is yes.
According to Michelle Morse, MD, MPH, chief medical officer and deputy commissioner of the Center for Health Equity and Community Wellness in the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, in an interview with the AmNews, not only is it advisable to get the flu and COVID-19 vaccines together, but it is recommended.
“It is safe to get the shots together. We are encouraging people to do it in fact and again it helps to save you a little time,” said Morse.
Cameron Webb, MD, JD, a senior policy advisor for COVID-19 Equity on the White House COVID-19 Response Team, spoke with the AmNews about the impacts of such diseases, stating that “at the end of the day, nobody wants to miss a couple days of work or have their kids home from school for a couple of days because of infection, be it COVID, flu, RSV — whatever it may be, you want to stay healthy.”
One way to stay healthy is by getting vaccinated. While scientists are still working on an RSV vaccine, with an approved vaccine possibly available as early as next year, the seasonal flu and COVID-19 vaccines are currently widely available. The question then becomes where to get these vaccines together.
To answer this question, it is important to understand the term “coadministration.” According to the CDC in the article “Getting a Flu Vaccine and a COVID-19 Vaccine at the Same Time,” “Coadministration of vaccines refers to giving or getting more than one vaccine during a visit. This is common clinical practice. While there are some exceptions, many vaccines can be given at the same visit.”
The CDC goes on to state that “[g]iving more than one vaccine at a visit, also called ‘coadministration,’ is common medical practice and is recommended. The idea is to get people up to date on all the vaccines they are due for at one visit. This can ensure that people get all of their vaccines, in case they are not able to return for additional vaccinations at a later time.”
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were several studies regarding coadministration of the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine. A CDC study published in 2022 demonstrated that some individuals who got the flu and COVID-19 booster shot together had reactions such as headaches and fatigue, but these resolved swiftly and study findings were consistent with previous studies that, according to the CDC, “did not find any safety concerns with giving both vaccines at the same time.”
According to the STAT News article “Got questions about the timing of flu and Covid vaccines? Here’s what experts say,” there can be a reason not to get the flu and COVID-19 vaccines together, but it’s very specific: if the person getting vaccinated has a history of reactions to immunizations such as headaches, joint pain, chills or other more serious reactions. In that case, that individual would be advised to speak with their medical professional about how and when to get the vaccines.
For the vast majority of people, though, according to Morse, “it is a hundred percent safe to get them at the same time. Your pharmacist or your physician’s office is definitely able to administer them at the same time. As a reminder, the bivalent COVID shot is for ages five and up and the flu shot is strongly recommended as well for that same group so we hope that people will get them together. The best message I can give is that it is safe to get them at the same time.”
For additional resources about COVID-19, visit www1.nyc.gov/site/coronavirus/index.page or call 311.COVID-19. Testing and vaccination resources can also be accessed on the AmNews COVID-19 page: www.amsterdamnews.com/covid/.