Can You Get Your Flu Shot and COVID Booster in the Same Arm?
When the COVID shots first came out, the CDC wanted to be cautious. The CDC advised that the COVID shots be waited for two weeks before any other vaccines, such as flu shots, because it was a new vaccine. This guidance has changed. It is possible to get your flu shot and your COVID shot at the same time, but not in the same arm.
The CDC recommends using separate arms if you are getting a COVID shot and a high-dose or adjuvanted flu shot. Because both types of vaccines are more “reactogenic than other common ones, it is recommended that you use separate arms. You might experience a sore arm or reddening or swelling around the injection site. A swollen lymph node may also develop in the same armpit. If your reaction is severe enough to seek medical care or to make a report to the vaccine adverse event reporting system, it would be really helpful to know which vaccine caused the issue.
That said, you’re not prohibited from getting both shots in the same arm. Most flu shots are not high-dose or adjuvanted. (Those shots are only recommended for people over age 65.) Most cases allow you to get two shots at once. However, your provider may have specific guidelines for certain vaccines. Separating shots by a few weeks is sometimes recommended for the monkeypox vaccine, for example, although if you know you’ve been exposed to monkeypox you should not delay getting the vaccine.
Most providers will assume that you want to get two shots. If my children have received multiple vaccines, the nurses will usually double-team them, giving shots in both arms (or both legs for babies) simultaneously. If I, as a grownup have taken more than one shot to the pharmacy, they give one shot in each arm. This is how I got my travel-related Typhoid and Hepatitis A shots a few decades ago.
Ultimately, the choice of arms and the choice of scheduling are up to you. Your immune system is likely to respond just as well to the shots whether they’re in one arm or two, Katherine Wu reports for the Atlantic. It really comes down to whether you prefer two slightly-sore arms to one potentially super-sore. You can also avoid the question by scheduling your flu shots on different days. This is especially convenient if you get them at your local pharmacy.
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The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.