When should you get a flu shot this year?

When to get a flu shot in 2021?
Photo via KOMUnews/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The fall is approaching fast, and with the COVID-19 pandemic still going strong, many people are wondering about the safest time to get a flu shot in 2021.

Questions about when, and where, to get a flu vaccine are spurred by a number of concerns. People seeking a COVID vaccine are unsure how soon after the vaccine they can get a flu shot, and some are concerned about where to find them. While most businesses have resumed normal schedules despite the ongoing pandemic, are the same places that usually offer flu shots offering them this year? And if so, when is the best time to get one? There are also lingering questions about how to schedule COVID booster shots around flu vaccinations. 

Thankfully, a number of experts seeking to encourage Americans to get a flu vaccine are answering these questions.

Is it safe to get a flu vaccine and a COVID vaccine?

Last year, questions lingered about the safety of getting both a COVID vaccine and a flu vaccine in the same time period. This changed over the last several months, however, after a June study indicated that it is perfectly safe to get both the flu vaccine and the COVID vaccine. 

Do you need to space out your flu shot and COVID vaccine?

Experts advise that people seeking both vaccines, or a flu vaccine and a COVID booster, spread the shots out by at least two weeks. 

“We generally recommend that you not get a COVID-19 vaccine within two weeks of getting any other vaccines,” Dr. Mallika Marshall of Massachusetts General Hospital told CBS. “As long as you space the two vaccines out by two weeks, you should be fine.”

Some experts say a waiting period isn’t necessary at all, but if you have concerns about spacing out the vaccines “waiting that 14-day period wouldn’t do harm,” according to Dr. Mohammed Reza, an infectious disease specialist.

If you do plan to get your flu shot and COVID vaccine or booster in the same time period, Reza recommends getting the shots in different arms. Both shots can cause some localized pain, so getting both in the same area is likely to intensify this effect.

Where can you get a flu shot in 2021?

Numerous locations are currently offering flu shots. All CVS and MinuteClinic locations across the nation are offering flu shots. CVS has them available seven days a week.

Appointments can be made online or over the phone. Other locations, including Walgreens, offer seasonal flu shots in the fall, and are also available for appointments or walk-ins.

Read more on the coronavirus vaccines:

Sources: CBS, Detroit Free Press, News 4 Jax, Desert Sun

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