Do You Need to Space Out Your Flu Shot and COVID Booster? We Asked Experts

Flu season is upon us, which means it's time to set up an appointment to get your annual flu shot. It may seem early (wasn't it just August?), but flu cases are already on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 969 cases of influenza A and 52 cases of influenza B during the week ending Oct. 1. And New York state reported nearly 600 cases during this same time span, according to the state's Department of Health. By comparison, this time last year, there had only been 150 cases.

Not to mention, COVID is still present — and you don't want to be battling both viruses at the same time (flurona, anyone?). So, it's time to get the COVID booster and the flu shot. Many vaccination sites will even offer both at the same time, and this year, doctors are emphasizing that it's not necessary to space out the two shots. Here's more about why.

Do You Need to Space Out Your Flu Shot and COVID Booster?

No. "There's no contrary indication to receiving the influenza (flu) vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time. It is medically appropriate to do so if that is your choice," William Schaffner, MD, medical director of the National Foundation For Infectious Diseases, told POPSUGAR.

"The flu vaccine and covid vaccine can be administered simultaneously," echoes Amesh Adalja, MD, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security. His only reason for separating the vaccines is for timing purposes, noting that he typically advises people to get their flu shots in late October or early November "so they last the entire season." But you may want to get your COVID booster sooner than that. "So that may be a reason to separate the vaccines," he says.

But generally, you can get both vaccines together. "If you're brave, get them together the same week. Your immune system can absolutely handle both at the same time," says Robert G. Lahita, MD, PhD, director of the Institute For Autoimmune and Rheumatic Disease at Saint Joseph Health and author of "Immunity Strong."

What Side Effects Can You Expect After Getting Both the Flu Shot and COVID Booster Together?

Nothing out of the ordinary. You can expect the typical side effects of soreness, injection site pain, muscle aches and pains, and fatigue, says Dr. Lahita. "It's often recommended to do them in separate arms so that one arm doesn't ache so much," Dr. Adalja adds. If you're concerned about how your body will react to getting both vaccines together or you've have had a negative reaction to either vaccine in the past, consult your doctor about the best course of action for you.

Ultimately, the timing of the shot is far less important than making sure you get vaccinated. Dr. Schaffner noted that there's an old vaccine adage: a vaccine postponed is often a vaccine never received. Your best bet at protection is to get both — whether it's at the same time or weeks apart, it's up to you.

— Additional reporting by Alexis Jones