Doctor says not to get flu jab at same time as covid vaccine
Flu jabs are available every year in GP practices and pharmacies, and many people are eligible for free flu jabs on the NHS. Recently the Government has approved a Covid vaccine, and the first coronavirus vaccinations have started to be administered.
Can you have the flu jab and the Covid vaccine at the same time?
Dr June Raine, chief executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said on The Andrew Marr Show people should not take the flu jab and the coronavirus vaccine at the same time.
Dr Raine said: “If you’re still due to have your flu jab, please do have it before the Covid vaccine. Not at the same time.”
People who are eligible for flu vaccines are being advised not to delay having their flu jabs to wait for the Covid vaccine.
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The British Heart Foundation website states: “The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is recommended to be given at least two weeks apart from your flu jab.
“It’s better to be protected from flu as soon as possible, so if you are eligible for a flu jab and haven’t yet had it this winter, contact your GP or community pharmacy.
“Don’t wait to have the coronavirus vaccine first.”
Dr Olivia Szepietowski from Medic Testing told Express.co.uk the current advice suggests people should wait at least two weeks between getting flu jabs and Covid vaccination.
She said of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine: “The current medical advice is that you should wait at least two weeks between having the vaccine and getting your flu jab.
“It is not recommended to get both the vaccine and the flu jab at the same time.
“It is impossible to know when you will be able to get a vaccine as national governments remain the main customers and they are not yet privately available and, despite the presence of Covid-19, it is still extremely important to be protected from the flu.
“Therefore, it is recommended that you get the flu jab as soon as possible if you are eligible and have not yet had the flu jab, and do not wait to get the Covid-19 vaccine first.
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“In the weeks between getting the flu jab and the vaccine, you should remain prudent and follow Covid-19 guidance to prevent the spread of the virus and keep yourself and others safe.”
Leyla Hannbeck, CEO of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies, told Express.co.uk: “As with the flu vaccine, the Covid vaccination is going to be given based on a priority system and those on the priority list will be vaccinated first so it is important to know if you are in that cohort.
“It is recommended that the Pfizer Covid vaccine is given at least two weeks apart from the flu jab.
“It is however important that patients are protected from both, so we encourage patients to speak to their pharmacists as soon as possible if they are eligible for the flu vaccine.”
As only 800,000 batches of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are currently available in the UK, only some people will likely receive the Covid vaccine before Christmas.
The UK’s Covid vaccination programme has only just started, with the bulk of vaccinations expected to take place in the first few months of 2021.
Professor Martin Michaelis, Professor of Molecular Medicine at the University of Kent, told Express.co.uk getting flu jabs as soon as possible may “free up capacity” for providing Covid vaccinations in the future.
Discussing whether people should have their flu and Covid vaccines at the same time, Professor Michaelis said: “There is no data on this, yet. There is no obvious scientific reason for keeping them apart, but we will have to wait for data.
“Practically, this may not be an issue this flu season. It will take a while until a substantial number of Covid-19 vaccine doses will be available and flu vaccinations are already ongoing.
“Given the huge effort needed for the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines, it may be wise to get the flu vaccination as soon as possible to free up capacity for the provision of Covid-19 jabs.”
In the future the Covid vaccine could be combined with the flu vaccine, which would allow patients to be vaccinated against both at the same time.
A Daily Telegraph Q&A on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine states: “The UK Vaccines Taskforce is looking into combining the flu jab and the coronavirus jab but this is unlikely to happen this winter.
“It may form part of an annual vaccination programme but it depends on what happens to the virus.
“It may just vanish in the same way as Sars.”
Why is the flu vaccine important in light of Covid-19?
The NHS website states getting the flu vaccine is important because:
- If you’re at higher risk from coronavirus, you’re also more at risk of problems from flu
- If you get flu and coronavirus at the same time, research shows you’re more likely to be seriously ill
- It’ll help to reduce pressure on the NHS and social care staff who may be dealing with coronavirus
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