Flu season has arrived, and for anybody who obtained their final COVID-19 vaccine in July or earlier, so has the time for a booster.
Many provinces have already begun providing both the brand new bivalent COVID-19 vaccine that targets the Omicron pressure and the annual influenza vaccine. Others, akin to Ontario, will provide the flu shot starting in November. Both vaccines are secure, and out there freed from cost.
Someone due for both their COVID-19 booster and their flu shot is perhaps questioning if it is potential to save lots of time by getting both photographs collectively. Public well being recommendation on combining vaccinations has modified over the course of the pandemic, so a little bit of confusion is pure.
Here’s what Health Canada, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization and pharmacists are saying proper now.
CAN YOU BOOK A FLU SHOT AND COVID-19 BOOSTER AT THE SAME TIME?
According to the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, COVID-19 vaccines could be given at the identical time as, or any time earlier than or after, different vaccines. This consists of stay, non-live, adjuvanted or unadjuvanted vaccines.
NACI beforehand advisable that COVID-19 vaccines be given at least 28 days earlier than and 14 days after different vaccines, however modified its place in September 2021 after reviewing the evolving knowledge round COVID-19 vaccination.
Dr. Tiana Tilli is a scientific pharmacist and lecturer at the University of British Columbia’s Pharmacists’ Clinic. She was one in all many pharmacists administering COVID-19 vaccines at a time when NACI suggested towards giving them together with over vaccines.
Tilli mentioned within the early days of COVID-19 vaccines, health-care professionals and researchers wished to look at the vaccines’ unintended effects with out interference from the unintended effects of different vaccines.
“We did not wish to muddy the image. We wished to have actually strong post-marketing surveillance,” she informed CTVNews.ca in a cellphone interview on Friday.
“Now we have had COVID vaccines round for some time and so we’ve the info we’d like from that perspective, and so now we’re snug saying you may get them on the identical day or any period of time after (one other vaccine).”
Provinces and territories have their very own methods for delivering vaccinations, so seek the advice of your physician or pharmacist to learn how to e book both vaccines in a single appointment.
IS IT SAFE?
Health Canada has not recognized any particular security considerations for folks receiving routine vaccines at the identical time or inside days of one another.
Natalie Crown, pharmacist and director of the physician of pharmacy program at the University of Toronto, in contrast getting the 2 photographs collectively to different circumstances the place folks obtain multiple vaccine at a time, akin to for journey.
“It’s not unusual to present vaccines collectively,” she mentioned. “I suppose the important thing message for Canadians is that getting the flu vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccine is secure, and we do not have info to counsel it impacts the effectiveness of 1 vaccine or the opposite. So they are often given collectively.”
ARE SIDE EFFECTS WORSE FOR PEOPLE WHO RECEIVE BOTH SHOTS AT ONCE?
Health Canada warns there’s a chance of elevated short-term unintended effects when a COVID-19 vaccine and one other vaccine are given at the identical time or inside days of one another, however Tilli mentioned that should not deter anybody from getting both vaccinations in a single appointment.
She mentioned the unintended effects from receiving both photographs at as soon as is perhaps worse than the same old unintended effects related to the flu shot, however not noticeably worse than unintended effects related to the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Everyone’s going to be completely different,” she mentioned. “But I would anticipate it to be pretty just like what folks’s earlier COVID vaccine unintended effects have been.”
As for a way these unintended effects may really feel, Crown mentioned it varies considerably based mostly on how every particular person’s immune system responds to the vaccine, however they’re usually delicate.
“You can anticipate to have a barely sore arm for normally a day or two, and some folks…could really feel extra drained than normal, they could really feel achy,” Crown mentioned. “That’s only a sign our physique is mounting the immune response we wish it to in response to a vaccine.”
SHOULD YOU GET BOTH VACCINES IN THE SAME ARM OR ONE IN EACH?
Health Canada says vaccines given throughout the identical go to must be administered at completely different injection websites. Crown clarified that the 2 websites may very well be completely different arms or completely different factors on the identical arm.
“You can get both vaccines in the identical arm,” she mentioned, explaining that the deltoid muscle, the muscle into which flu and COVID-19 vaccines are injected, is massive sufficient to accommodate two injection websites an inch or so aside.
“Typically what the supplier will do is that they’ll area out the injection website a bit.”
Both Crown and Tilli mentioned they’d accommodate sufferers whether or not they wished their vaccinations collectively in the identical arm or in separate arms. It largely comes down as to if somebody needs post-vaccination ache in a single or both arms.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF GETTING THEM AT THE SAME TIME?
There are potential advantages to both people and the health-care system when people who find themselves eligible get both vaccines at as soon as.
According to Health Canada, administering flu photographs at the identical time as COVID-19 vaccines will assist ease the rollout of the influenza vaccine program within the fall and winter and make it simpler for everybody to obtain their photographs.
“For people, I suppose it is extra handy to only should go in as soon as,” Tilli mentioned. “If individuals are nervous about unintended effects…you solely should form of expertise it as soon as. And then I suppose a very powerful factor is we’re getting that sooner safety.”
That sooner safety, Tilli mentioned, advantages different Canadians and the health-care system.
“The faster we will get folks protected, hopefully the much less enhance in instances and the much less impact we see on hospital capability.”