By Megan Wehring
While COVID-19 boosters may be on many minds, doctors say it’s important to not forget about flu shots.
“We have been dealing with the flu vaccine for a lot of years,” said Dr. David Martin, Chief Medical Officer at Ascension Seton Hays. “We know what the adverse effects are.”
The timing of COVID-19 and flu vaccines is a burning question that many patients have before their next doctor visit. Both vaccines can be given at the same time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including COVID-19 boosters.
Martin agreed that there is no risk getting the COVID-19 and flu vaccines during the same visit.
“There’s no problem getting them at the same,” Martin said. “There is really no risk to getting them at the same time. There is also no problem getting them a week or two apart. I think some folks would be uncomfortable getting both because they would be worried about feeling sick afterwards.”
Flu vaccines have a six-month effectiveness period, Martin explained, and the influenza season tends to start in the beginning of fall and end in late spring. People should get their flu shot in October or in November at the latest.
Children are among the vulnerable population that would have more complications in the case they get sick with the seasonal flu. Parents are urged to have their children vaccinated to help protect them against the flu.
“Younger children are more at risk,” Martin said. “Everyday they are going to school. They are in classes full of other kids with runny noses and coughing. They are in closer quarters sometimes than some of us.”
In previous years, local school districts have offered students the option for a flu vaccine. Hays CISD is waiting to hear if a regional provider will participate.
“For students, school districts in the region who plan to offer in-house shot clinics generally go with a regional provider,” said Tim Savoy, HCISD chief communications officer. “We don’t have word yet on whether a regional provider has agreed to participate. It varies from year to year. In absence of us doing in-house student clinics, we would promote flu shots to students and parents and direct them to local area providers (pharmacies) and places like the health department, where they could be offered at reduced cost or no cost depending on an individual’s ability to pay.”
Dripping Springs ISD does not have a plan for student flu vaccines this year.
Flu vs. COVID-19
While symptoms of the flu and COVID-19 are comparable, people may need to be tested to see what virus is causing them to be sick. It is also possible to be infected with both a flu virus and the virus that causes COVID-19 at the same time, according to the CDC.
The CDC also says those who have COVID-19 tend to take longer to show symptoms and be contagious for longer, compared to those who have flu infections.
Some people are predicting fewer people are going to get the flu vaccine this year, Martin explained.
“I wouldn’t be surprised by it,” Martin told the Hays Free Press/News-Dispatch, “because there has just been so much controversy over the COVID vaccine. They truly are two different illnesses and the vaccines are two different vaccines.”