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Covid-19 Health

Vaccinating against flu and COVID-19 at the same time is safe, study finds

  • It is safe to have an influenza vaccine at the same time as a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a study.
  • The coadministration of the two vaccines did not affect the immune response.
  • Only a few people reported mild side effects, such as fatigue or soreness at the injection site.
  • The United Kingdom’s National Health System (NHS) says that the results show that people have nothing to worry about if both appointments fall on the same day.
  • Having appointments for both vaccines at the same time could also lessen the administrative burden on the healthcare system.
The U.K., like many countries around the world, saw an almost nonexistent flu season last year, largely owing to lockdowns, physical distancing, and mask wearing.
However, this year, several reports suggest that we may see a rise in respiratory tract infections compared with 2020.
Some experts have also expressed fears about a “twindemic” of flu and COVID-19, which has strengthened calls for vaccination against both.

From September, the U.K. said it would offer more than 35 million people free influenza vaccines in what politicians are calling the most comprehensive flu program in the country’s history.

This year, the rollout also coincides with more people getting second doses or boosters of the COVID-19 vaccine.

This timing means that many people may have overlapping appointments for both vaccines. Some people may be worried about having them on the same day, but are such concerns valid?

The Combining Influenza and COVID-19 Vaccination (ComFluCOV) study in the U.K. investigated the coadministration of these vaccines to check whether it was safe. The Lancet has published the findings as a preprint.

Administering different flu and COVID-19 vaccines

Dr. Rajeka Lazarus, a consultant in microbiology and infectious diseases at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust and chief investigator for the ComFluCOV study, told Medical News Today that the team conducted the trials “to support the potential need to administer COVID-19 boosters alongside seasonal influenza vaccines”.
Researchers at the University of Bristol led the study, which involved 679 volunteers across 12 NHS sites in England and Wales. The volunteers were all over the age of 18 years and had received at least one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
The researchers examined six combinations involving the two COVID-19 vaccines and three flu vaccines: Flucelvax QIV, Flublok Quadrivalent (QIVr), and Fluad. A different cohort of participants tested each combination.
The researchers randomly allocated half of each cohort to received the flu vaccine or a placebo saline injection on the same day as the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. They administered the vaccines in opposite arms so that they could tell which injection was responsible for any local reactions.
After 3 weeks, the participants in the placebo groups received the flu vaccine.
The researchers then set up a follow-up study to discuss any side effects. They also collected blood samples from the participants.
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