Health official: Safe to take flu and COVID shots this season

Health

Booster shots of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine are displayed during a vaccine clinic in Townshend, Vt., on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022. U.S. health officials say 4.4 million Americans have rolled up their sleeves for the updated COVID-19 booster shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted the count Thursday as public health experts bemoaned President Joe Biden’s recent remark that “the pandemic is over.” (Kristopher Radder/The Brattleboro Reformer via AP)

(NewsNation) — With the arrival of flu season, many are debating whether to take the flu shot or the new bivalent booster this fall. Public health officials are strongly recommending both.

“God gave us two arms: one for the flu shot and the other one for the Covid shot,” Dr. Asish Jha, who leads the White House’s pandemic response, said at a press conference hearing September 6.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu season in the U.S. usually occurs in the fall and winter, peaking between December and February. Adults, for the most part, receive their flu shot around this time of year.

But with the Biden administration alluding that the COVID-19 vaccine should be administered annually in the same fashion as the flu shot — with Dr. Anthony Fauci urging everyone 12 and older to receive the updated booster when possible — some healthcare professionals believe it should be added to everyone’s seasonal regimen.

“So these updated COVID boosters can both help restore protection that has waned since previous vaccination and provide broader protection against the new variants,” American Medical Association (AMA) Vice President of Science, Medicine and Public Health, Andrea Garcia said in an interview on the AMA website Wednesday.

“The U.S. COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the U.S. continue to reduce the risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death. And now that much of the population has stopped masking and quarantining, these boosters are our best defense against COVID-19 and the variants that are currently circulating in our communities,” she continued.

Garcia went on to say the importance of the flu vaccination hasn’t waned and may even be more important this time around due to a lax in COVID restrictions. She also predicts the Northeast’s flu season will mirror statistics she’s already seen from the Southern Hemisphere, which has “seen a lot fly this year.”

As far as people being afraid of doing both shots at the same time, an infectious disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, tells The New York Times the practice is quite common, citing that children often receive multiple vaccinations at once.

“I think people may want to stock up on at-home COVID tests. We know that flu and COVID symptoms can be similar. It will be important to determine which you have if you become sick so you can follow that recommended isolation guidance,” Garcia said.

U.S. health officials say 4.4 million Americans have rolled up their sleeves for the updated COVID-19 booster shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted the count Thursday as public health experts bemoaned President Joe Biden’s recent remark that, “The pandemic is over.”

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