As we enter the 2021-2022 flu season, many parents have questions about getting a flu vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this article, we will discuss what’s different this flu season, frequently asked questions about the seasonal flu and COVID-19, and what parents need to know about vaccinations.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) few things are different for the 2021-2022 influenza (flu) season. All flu vaccines will be designed to protect against four different flu viruses. The vaccine called Flucelvax Quadrivalent is now approved for people 2 years and older. And, flu vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time.
The CDC answered the most common questions regarding this year’s flu season which we will now discuss.
Can you have the flu and COVID-19 at the same time?
Yes, it is possible to have flu and other respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 at the same time but health experts are still studying how common this is. Some of the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar, making it hard to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone. Diagnostic testing can help determine if you are sick with flu or COVID-19. Flu vaccines are not designed to protect you from COVID-19 and a COVID-19 vaccine is not designed to protect you against the flu.
If COVID-19 is spreading in my community, should I still go out to get a flu vaccine?
Yes. Getting a flu vaccine is an essential part of protecting your health, your family’s health, and the health of those in your community every year. Take recommended precautions to protect yourself from COVID-19 while getting your flu vaccine such as wearing a mask, physical distancing, and getting a COVID-19 vaccination. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every year.
Can I Get a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu vaccine during the same visit?
Yes, you can get a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu vaccine at the same time. Even though both vaccines can be given at the same visit, people should follow the recommended schedule for either vaccine: If you haven’t gotten your currently recommended doses of COVID-19 vaccine, get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as you can, and ideally get a flu vaccine by the end of October.
Is it safe to get a COVID-19 vaccine and a flu vaccine at the same time?
While limited data exist on giving COVID-19 vaccines with other vaccines, including flu vaccines, experience with giving other vaccines together has shown the way our bodies develop protection and possible side effects are generally similar whether vaccines are given alone or with other vaccines.
If you have concerns about getting both vaccines at the same time, you should speak with a health care provider.
Can I get a flu vaccine at the same time I get my COVID-19 booster shot?
Yes, you can get a flu vaccine at the same time you get a COVID-19 vaccine, including a COVID-19 booster shot.
The CDC recently conducted a poll to gauge consumer attitudes toward flu vaccination during the COVID-19 pandemic and whether consumers would be open to getting both vaccines at the same time. They surveyed 1,004 adults 18 years and older of which 643 were vaccinated against COVID-19 and 334 were unvaccinated. 71% of COVID-19 vaccinated consumers who intended on getting a flu shot said they would be willing to get a flu shot at the same time as a COVID-19 vaccine or booster shot.
Pediatric flu cases are expected to increase this year. There were fewer cases last year due to lockdown periods, social distancing, and remote learning. As a result, children didn’t develop as much immunity, putting them at a greater risk for severe symptoms this year, according to Dr. Jennifer Romero, a primary care pediatrician.
But, flu seasons are notoriously difficult to predict said William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases in an interview with The Washington Post. While experts agree another nonexistent season is unlikely, other evidence suggests the upcoming one could be typical or milder than normal.
Regulators could authorize the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for children between the ages of 5 and 12 as soon as November, paving the way for some children to receive flu and coronavirus shots at the same time. Doctors are urging parents to bring their children in for flu shots earlier with flu season already starting in much of the country.
To reiterate, doctors and public health officials strongly recommend children wear masks to protect themselves and others during the pandemic. Since children under 12 years old are not yet eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, it’s important to encourage mask-wearing around children under 12. Parents can encourage young children to wear masks by having them choose masks with fun designs and using positive reinforcement techniques, like a sticker chart rewarding mask-wearing. Parents should also wear masks in front of their children to be positive role models.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, October 7). Frequently asked influenza (flu) questions: 2021-2022 season. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 13, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/flu/season/faq-flu-season-2021-2022.htm.
Nirappil, F. (2021, October 8). Flu practically vanished last year. now doctors are bracing for potential ‘twindemic’ of flu and covid-19 spikes. The Washington Post. Retrieved October 13, 2021, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/10/08/flu-season-covid-shot/.
Winger, A. (2021, October 11). Pediatricians share advice for parents as flu season meets the pandemic. PublicSource. Retrieved October 13, 2021, from https://www.publicsource.org/covid-pediatric-care-flu-season-allegheny-county-parent-advice/.