Should You Get Your Covid Vaccine and Flu Shot on the Same Day?

Can you get your Covid-19 and flu vaccines together? What about other multiple vaccines at once? Learn what experts say before you head out to get your shots.

Can you get multiple vaccines at once?

From the implementation of Covid-19 vaccine mandates and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) emergency use authorization of a smaller dose of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine for kids aged 5 to 11, to an influx of public service announcements about scheduling your annual flu shot, vaccines are getting lots of airtime lately.

It can be tempting to kill several birds (or viruses) with one stone (or doctor’s appointment), but is it wise to get more than one type of vaccine in a visit?

The technical term for getting multiple vaccines together is vaccine co-administration. And the answer on whether this is a good idea depends largely on your age and health status, the vaccines you’re considering, how urgent the need is to start building up protection against said threat or threats, and personal preferences, experts say.

(Here are 40 things your doctor wishes you knew about vaccines.)

As a general rule, there are very few vaccines that can’t be co-administered, says L.J Tan, MS, PhD, the chief policy and partnership officer at the Immunization Action Coalition in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Vaccines commonly administered together include DTaP and Tdap, which protect against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (aka whooping cough), and MMR, which prevents measles, mumps, and rubella.

When vaccines are co-administered, they should go in different locations or anatomic sites, according to Dr. Tan. “It can be in the same arm if they are spaced an inch apart,” he says.

This allows your doctor or pharmacist to identify which vaccine caused a reaction, should one occur.

Here, experts break down which vaccines can be given at the same time and which ones can’t.

Syringe and Vaccine on top of a Calendarerdikocak/Getty Images

Flu shot plus Covid-19 shots

Can you get them at the same time? Yes

We’re approaching flu season and still in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, which means protection against both of these viruses is essential, says Len Horovitz, MD, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

When Covid-19 vaccines were first rolling out in the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended waiting two weeks between the shots and other immunizations as a precaution, but the agency has changed course and now says you can do both at once.

“There were some concerns early on given the newness of the Covid-19 vaccines, but now we know that it is safe to get both at the same time,” says Mohammad Sobhanie, MD, an infectious disease expert at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus.

What about kids?

The FDA has authorized the use of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. Now, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices must make a recommendation on its use, which then must be approved by the CDC director.

Once it is officially green-lighted, kids can get the Covid-19 and flu shot in the same visit, Dr. Tan says. “Many kids have already received the flu vaccine.”

Hepatitis A vaccine and flu shot

Can you get them at the same time? Yes

Other inactivated and/or live virus vaccines such as the flu shot can be given at the same time as the HepA vaccine.

Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection that’s preventable by getting the hepatitis A vaccine. (Here are some signs that your liver is in trouble.)

The CDC recommends hepatitis A shots for children aged 12 to 23 months, children and adolescents aged 2 to 18 years who have not already received hepatitis A vaccines, and people at increased risk for hepatitis A or severe disease from hepatitis A infection.

Pregnant women at risk for hepatitis A or for severe outcome from hepatitis A infection should consider vaccination, the CDC states. Risk for hepatitis A increases with international travel, illicit drug use, and homelessness. Men who have sex with other men are also at increased risk for Hepatitis A.

Flu plus pneumonia shots

Can you get them at the same time? Yes

You can administer either pneumonia vaccine (PCV13 or PPSV23) and the flu shot during the same visit, Dr. Horovitz says.

In general, the CDC recommends pneumonia vaccines for young kids, older adults, and certain at-risk people. Pneumovax (PPSV23) protects against 23 common types of pneumococcus, and Prevnar (PCV13) protects against 13 types.

Shingles shot and pneumonia (or any other vaccine)

Can you get them at the same time? Not advisable.

Shingles, a painful rash caused by a reactivation of the chickenpox virus, is preventable. The CDC recommends that anyone over 50 get two doses of the shingles vaccine.

Dr. Horovitz isn’t a fan of combining a shingles shot with any other type of vaccine. “Ten percent of people will be really sick from a shingles shot, and their arm will really hurt, so I don’t like to layer shingles vaccines,” he says.

PCV-13 and Meningococcal conjugate vaccine

Can you get them at the same time? Hard no

You can’t give the PCV13 pneumonia shot with a meningococcal conjugate vaccine, as they may interfere with your body’s immunologic response to PCV13, the CDC warns. There are two meningitis vaccines available in the United States: meningococcal conjugate or MenACWY vaccines. There’s also a vaccine against meningitis B. All 11- and 12-year-olds should get a MenACWY vaccine, with a booster dose at age 16.

Both pneumonia vaccines: PCV13 and PPSV23

Can you get them at the same time? No

Some people should get both pneumonia shots for protection against all strains of this lung infection, but not during the same visit, the CDC cautions.

Covid-19 booster, flu, and pneumonia

Can you get them at the same time? Yes

If you are coming in for your third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine (the “booster“) and haven’t had your flu or pneumonia shots yet, you can get them all at the same time.

“Get the more reactive one in one arm (the Covid-19 shot) and the flu and pneumonia vaccines spaced an inch on the other arm,” Dr. Tan says. “Yes, both arms may hurt, but this is a small price to pay for protection against three deadly diseases,” he notes.

Mixing and matching Covid-19 vaccines

This is different from getting multiple vaccines in the same sitting.

“If you are in a location and can get your third shot or Covid-19 booster, and the type you received for your first two shots in the series is not available, it’s reasonable to receive the other type as a booster,” Dr. Sobhanie says.

This only applies to the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA Covid-19 vaccines.

The bottom line

Keep copious records of all the vaccines you receive, along with dates, to make sure you stay on top of your medical records and ahead of these preventable diseases, Dr. Horovitz adds.

Sources
  • L.J. Tan, MS, PhD, chief, policy and partnership officer, Immunization Action Coalition, St Paul, Minnesota
  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): "Hepatitis A Vaccination"
  • CDC: "Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Vaccines Currently Approved or Authorized in the United States"
  • Mohammad Sobhanie, MD, infectious disease expert, the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "FDA Authorizes Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for Emergency Use in Children 5 through 11 Years of Age"
  • Len Horovitz, MD, pulmonary specialist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City
  • CDC: "Shingles: Vaccination"
  • CDC: "Administering Pneumococcal Vaccines"

Denise Mann, MS
Denise Mann is a freelance health writer whose articles regularly appear in WebMD, HealthDay, and other consumer health portals. She has received numerous awards, including the Arthritis Foundation's Northeast Region Prize for Online Journalism; the Excellence in Women's Health Research Journalism Award; the Journalistic Achievement Award from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery; National Newsmaker of the Year by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America; the Gold Award for Best Service Journalism from the Magazine Association of the Southeast; a Bronze Award from The American Society of Healthcare Publication Editors (for a cover story she wrote in Plastic Surgery Practice magazine); and an honorable mention in the International Osteoporosis Foundation Journalism Awards. She was part of the writing team awarded a 2008 Sigma Delta Chi award for her part in a WebMD series on autism. Her first foray into health reporting was with the Medical Tribune News Service, where her articles appeared regularly in such newspapers as the Detroit Free Press, Chicago Sun-Times, Dallas Morning News, and Los Angeles Daily News. Mann received a graduate degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and her undergraduate degree from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. She lives in New York with her husband David; sons Teddy and Evan; and their miniature schnauzer, Perri Winkle Blu.