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SRHD: Flu, COVID-19 shots are both important, just give them space

UPDATED: Wed., May 5, 2021

If you’ve completed your COVID-19 vaccination at least two weeks ago, it’s still a good idea to ask your provider about getting a flu shot, said Kayla Myers with the Spokane Regional Health District.

Generally, flu cases are down this year, but it’s still spring, and SRHD recommends a flu shot annually, added Myers, who leads the agency’s COVID-19 vaccination team.

Officials don’t know yet if another vaccine affects the immune response desired with the COVID-19 vaccine, so that’s why there’s the recommended two-week wait before and after getting a different immunization, Myers said.

“We aren’t sure yet if getting another vaccine diminishes the immune response that we’re looking for with the COVID vaccine,” Myers said. “There just isn’t evidence yet to support that it won’t affect the immune response, unlike how you can get the flu shot, plus other things.”

But if the time has passed, it’s not too late. Flu is always circulating – it just depends on where you are in the world – such as when the flu season wanes in the Northwest, it picks up in the Southern Hemisphere, Myers said.

The massive efforts to get people the COVID-19 vaccine remain at the forefront.

“Definitely, the COVID vaccine has been the focus of many people’s efforts this past winter, but if your provider does have the flu vaccine, we always recommend getting the flu shot every year,” Myers said. “Most people think of the flu season as October to March, but because of the COVID vaccine, I believe there are probably a lot of providers who have the flu vaccine still.”

SRHD held some flu shot clinics earlier, but that diminished by around December as the agency pivoted to getting the COVID-19 vaccine out in the community. Normally, SRHD still would be holding flu clinics into April, or even May, depending on supplies.

Also, the waiting period before and after COVID-19 vaccine shots, especially for the two-dose ones, put in a gap of about two months when people weren’t getting flu shots, she said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists the advisory on the COVID-19 pre-vaccination checklist, asking if you received another vaccine in the last 14 days.

“The COVID-19 vaccine series should be administered alone with a minimum interval of 14 days before or after administration of other vaccines,” the form says. “This recommendation is based on the lack of data on the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines administered simultaneously with other vaccines. However, COVID-19 and other vaccines may be administered within a shorter period in situations where the benefits of vaccination are deemed to outweigh the potential unknown risks of vaccine co-administration.”

With a focus on trying to get the pandemic controlled, people can find open COVID-19 vaccine appointments, Myers said. “There are always appointments, so go to the vaccine locator on the DOH website, and you can find an appointment probably today.”

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