COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — The US Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization Thursday and a CDC panel voted to recommend additional booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for Americans age 65 and older, nursing home residents, and adults between the ages of 50 and 64 who have certain underlying health conditions.
This expanded eligibility for COVID booster shots comes as many providers are offering seasonal influenza vaccines. Doctors in El Paso County tell News 5 that it's safe to get both shots at once. In fact, they recommend it.
Dr. Richard Vu of the Matthews Vu Medical Group said that his staff has been administering simultaneous vaccine doses for a few days now.
"The CDC recommends for people to get influenza vaccine in September and October, optimally before the end of October and optimally before the start of influenza activity in the community," Dr. Vu said.
He explained that when COVID vaccine doses were first distributed across the US this past winter, health officials took a more cautious approach and encouraged patients to wait two weeks after receiving another vaccine to get their first COVID shot. That recommendation has since changed.
"That was because we did not have data," said Dr. Vu. "Now we have more data and we know that it is safe for the COVID vaccine to be given at the same time as any other vaccine including the influenza vaccine."
Influenza activity has already been reported in El Paso County. Dr. Robin Johnson, Medical Director for El Paso County Public Health said that it takes our bodies two weeks to build up an immune defense after receiving a vaccine. So, she's encouraging the community to not wait to get a flu shot.
"We really are encouraging people to go ahead and get your flu vaccines early this year so that you have that immunity," said Dr. Johnson.
While it is safe to receive both the COVID and flu shot at once, Dr. Johnson said to expect to feel a little worn out.
"You will still have some of that, maybe a little achiness, a little bit of feeling tired as you get your vaccine and that is a sign that your immune system is recognizing that foe that they need to be prepared to fight," she said.
The health department plans to launch an influenza data dashboard on their website similar to the pages that currently display COVID-19 case data and vaccination information.
Influenza vaccines are recommended for everyone between the ages of 6 months and 65 years. Only the Pfizer BioNTech COVID vaccine has received FDA emergency use authorization for children ages 12 and older. The Moderna and Johnson and Johnson (Janssen) COVID vaccines are recommended for those age 18 and older.