By Sara Bondell - September 08, 2023
Most adults over 60 can help lower their risk for severe illness this fall with three different vaccines. A new COVID booster, the flu shot and the new respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine are available, but can you get them all at once?
“Those who are candidates for all three vaccines should consider getting the flu shot and COVID booster at the same time and getting the RSV vaccine two weeks later to minimize side effects and promote a healthy immune response to all three respiratory viruses,” said Dr. John Greene, chair of the Infectious Diseases Program at Moffitt Cancer Center. “Because the RSV vaccine is newly approved and available, we do not know if all three can be taken at the same time until more studies support the practice.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says flu shots and COVID-19 boosters can be given at the same time if you are due for both vaccines. A study published this summer showed people who got the flu vaccine and mRNA COVID-19 booster at the same time were slightly more likely (8% to 11%) to have reactions such as fatigue, headache and muscle ache compared to those who only got a COVID-19 booster, but the reactions were mild and went away quickly.
Here’s more information on all the vaccines available this fall:
The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older receive an annual flu shot. There were small changes around this year’s recommendations, including an updated composition of the vaccine and new guidelines for vaccination of people with egg allergies. Previously, it was recommended that those with severe allergy to eggs be vaccinated in an inpatient or outpatient medical setting. Beginning this flu season, additional safety measures are no longer recommended for those with an egg allergy.
September and October are the best times for most people to get vaccinated.
This new booster is expected to protect against severe disease and death from currently circulating variants. Moffitt recommends all cancer patients get the new booster to not only boost their current immune system but also protect against new COVID strains.
The booster is expected to be available in mid-September.
RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes coldlike symptoms. There are an estimated 60,000 to 160,000 hospitalizations and 6,000 to 10,000 deaths each year due to RSV among adults 65 and older. This summer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved an RSV vaccine for adults 60 and older, pregnant people, infants younger than 8 months old born during or entering their first RSV season and children 8-19 months old who are at increased risk for severe RSV and entering their second RSV season.
According to the CDC, RSV levels began rising in the South in late July and have more than doubled over the past month.
Moffitt will be offering flu shots, COVID boosters and RSV vaccines to eligible patients this fall.