ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — After a relatively mild flu season last year likely due in large part, doctors say, to widespread mitigation efforts to slow the spread of the more contagious coronavirus, what’s in store for this season?
Our VERIFY team is answering your most-asked questions about the flu shot.
Is October the best time to get your flu shot?
Yes, October is the best time to get the flu shot because a dose delivered now will protect you through March, which is past the usual peak of flu season.
WHAT WE FOUND
While the peak of flu season varies year to year, it generally peaks in January or February.
"There is some reasoning behind saying that October probably is the best month," Bregier told our VERIFY team. "That's because the immunity we get from the flu vaccine lasts about six months, and flu season usually starts in November, then December it builds into January and February."
Can the flu vaccine give you the flu?
No, the flu vaccine cannot give you the flu.
WHAT WE FOUND
On its website, the CDC says the flu vaccine cannot cause flu illness. The shots are made with either inactivated – or dead – viruses, or with only a single protein from the flu virus.
While the nasal spray vaccine does contain live viruses, the CDC says they are weakened so that they will not make you sick.
Can you get the COVID-19 vaccine (or booster) and the flu vaccine at the same time?
- Dr. John Sinnott, infectious disease specialist at Tampa General Hospital
- Dr. Charles Bregier, emergency medical physician at Novant Health
- Dr. Anna Durbin, professor of international health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
- Dr. Payal Kohli, board-certified cardiologist at Cherry Creek Heart
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Yes, you can get the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine at the same time. Doctors say it is safe.
WHAT WE FOUND
According to the CDC, a person can get a COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines, like the seasonal flu shot, during the same visit to the doctor or pharmacy.
You no longer need to wait 14 days between vaccinations as they previously recommended.
“Experience with other vaccines has shown that the way our bodies develop protection, known as an immune response, after getting vaccinated and possible side effects of vaccines are generally the same when given alone or with other vaccines,” the CDC said on its website.
Dr. Anna Durbin, a professor of International Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, tells VERIFY participants in last year’s COVID-19 vaccine trials were allowed to get their flu shots and it had no impact on the results.
Dr. John Sinnott, an infectious disease specialist at Tampa General Hospital, said it’s not only safe to get both at the same time but just makes sense.
"I highly recommend people get both vaccines at the same time and get them out of the way,” Sinnott said.
Dr. Kohli tells VERIFY it’s okay to space shot shots out if you’re still hesitant or immunocompromised — but for people with normal immune systems, she says it is fine to take them at the same time.
“I think the tolerability or the side effects are probably going to be the same whether you take two or one,” Kohli told VERIFY. “We're much more likely to get both of them if we take them together rather than taking them separately.”