Should your event attendees get double-vaxed this fall?
September and October have traditionally been the big months for flu shots. This time frame is also prime time for COVID-19 boosters in a post-pandemic world. For organizations hosting meetings and events this fall, the question is: Should we encourage attendees to get flu shots and COVID-19 booster shots at the same time? According to most health experts, the answer is yes. Many are of the opinion that it is a good idea to get both at once.
Ranit Mishori, M.D., a professor of family medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine says it is safe to receive one injection in each arm during the same office visit. “It’s an efficient way to ensure that people and the public they come into contact with are protected,” she says.
This is especially true for attendees who are over 50. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every year over half of flu-related hospitalizations occur among adults over age 65. Further, more than 70 percent of flu deaths occur among this age group. As for COVID-19, it most commonly affects adults 50 and older.
On the down side, it is possible that the side effects of the vaccines can be worse when they are received in tandem. A study published in JAMA Network Open in July 2022 found that people who got both vaccines at once were more likely to experience mild side effects when compared to people who only received the COVID-19 booster. But the study did not find that the practice of double-dosing, also known as coadministration, raised any safety concerns for the public.
The side effects from flu shots and COVID boosters are very similar. They include soreness around the injection point, chills, muscle aches, fatigue, and headaches. Mishori advises cautioning potential event attendees who have a history of experiencing side effects to flu shots and vaccinations that the chances of that happening may increase if they double dose.
Another tip for attendees: “Take it easy for a few days after being coadministrated,” says Mishori. “And don’t worry about the temporary side effects. It just means the vaccines are working. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help.”
The CDC recommends that the general public get a flu shot by the end of October — older adults should ask for the high-dose version for greater protection.
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