The vaccination campaign against the coronavirus has been a resounding success in the United Kingdom, with over 67% of the population now being completely vaccinated (that is, having had two doses of vaccine). There are several advantages to being vaccinated against the coronavirus, not least of which is that it allows Brits to travel without too many restrictions. In fact, all that is required of fully-vaccinated travellers is that they take a day 2 lateral flow test upon their return to the UK, which is available from companies such as Medicspot.
Booster jabs are now being offered in an effort to continue to protect the population and ease restrictions. However, as the flu season is upon us, you may be wondering if it is safe to have both your COVID-19 booster and annual flu jab at the same time.
Why are both vaccinations being offered now?
The United Kingdom, like many other countries across the world, experienced an almost non-existent flu season last year, owing to social distancing, extensive lockdowns, and masks.
However, several studies indicate that there may be an increase in respiratory tract infections this year. Experts have also raised concerns about a “twindemic” encompassing both the flu and COVID-19, which has fuelled demands for both vaccinations.
The United Kingdom announced in September that it would provide more than 35 million people with free flu vaccines in what has been dubbed the country’s most comprehensive flu vaccination effort to date. This year’s rollout has come at a time where more of the population receiving their second or third doses of COVID-19, raising concerns regarding the safety of having both jabs together.
Are both vaccines safe to have at the same time?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US, as well as other health experts worldwide, underlined that both vaccines work as intended when received together and that any side effects are comparable whether they’re administered in a single visit or separately. This is borne out by past experiences, as flu specialist Richard Webby of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital states that “We have a history of vaccinating our kids with multiple vaccines”.
Additionally, research in the UK included ‘The Combining Influenza and COVID-19 Vaccination’ (ComFluCOV) study, which was funded by the National Institute for Health Research and was undertaken to investigate whether co-administration was safe. The results demonstrated that it is safe to take the flu vaccine together with a COVID-19 jab. And as several vaccine combinations were tested, it also showed that different types of coronavirus vaccines could also be administered safely (although mixing the types of COVID-19 vaccines may impact on the level of protection). Therefore the study advised that the “COVID-19 booster vaccine programme should not disrupt or delay deployment of the annual influenza vaccination programme.”
How to stay up-to-date with your vaccinations
The NHS has been contacting people directly to ensure everyone is aware of when they are entitled to their COVID-19 jabs (including 1st doses, 2nd doses and booster jabs). The invitations sent provide all the information necessary to find a vaccination place nearby and book your jab.
You will also be notified by your GP when you can get your flu vaccine if you are more at risk, or you can contact your surgery directly if you wish to have the jab. Therefore remaining up-to-date is easy. It is also more important than ever to stay on top of all your vaccinations, as this is the only way to ensure that you are well protected. Although the number of doses and vaccines you need may seem daunting initially, it is important to remember that it’s much better than getting two different types of viral infections. If you have been offered both vaccinations on the same day but prefer not to have them together, you can ask for separate appointments.