Research Shows Combining Flu and COVID Vaccines is Safe
Last year, the flu season was almost absent due to the preventative measures for COVID-19, which was especially noticeable in the UK. Nevertheless, in comparison to 2020, several reports demonstrate that there will be an increase in respiratory tract infections this year. Many experts fear that COVID-19 and the flu season could cause a “twindemic,” and vaccination against both is required.
The UK will offer free flu vaccines for more than 35 million people, starting September. This year, the launch of the flu vaccine and the timing of the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine overlap. As a result, some people may have to receive both vaccines on the same day, which raises some concerns.
A study in the UK led by a group of researchers from the University of Bristol examined whether combining the two vaccines is safe. The study tested six combinations of the two COVID-19 and three flu vaccines: Fluad, Flublok Quadrivalent (QIVr), and Flucelvax QIV. The participants had received at least one Pfizer-BioNTech or Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
A second study that reviewed the side effects showed that the most frequent ones were fatigue and injection site soreness. Most of the participants who had at least one side effect after receiving a combination of the two vaccines experienced mild or moderate reactions. The researchers also discovered that the combination of the two vaccines had no negative influence on the immune response.
However, critics pointed out certain shortcomings of the study. To begin with, the researchers failed to include different racial demographics, given that more than 92% of the volunteers were white. Another serious drawback is the small number of participants.
Yet, the biggest problem is that the study focused only on humoral responses and failed to address other immune responses. The short observation period is also a significant disadvantage since the study fails to consider a long-term follow-up to establish the rate of antibody decrease in the long term. However, the coadministration of the two vaccines is deemed safe by the CDC.
To summarize, the researchers reported no significant differences between getting both vaccines on the same day and receiving them 3–4 weeks apart. Receiving the flu vaccine simultaneously as the second dose of a COVID-19 is considered safe by both CDC and NHS. Moreover, this approach could also be suitable for healthcare workers.
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