Get the COVID and flu vaccines simultaneously could be safe and even beneficial, according to study results presented this week at the Vaccines Summit in Boston.
In one study, researchers found that people who received both vaccines at the same time had higher levels of COVID antibodies than those who received both vaccines on different occasions.
Among 42 health care workers in Massachusetts, 12 of them received a bivalent vaccine. COVID reminder and a seasonal flu vaccine on the same day last fall.
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Another group of 30 people received both injections on two different days during the same month.
Three to four weeks later, those who received both vaccines simultaneously had higher levels of anti-Covid antibodies than those who received the vaccines separately.
This higher level of protection was detected for six months, the researchers found.
“We showed that COVID antibody responses were higher and longer lasting if the COVID and flu vaccines were given on the same day,” said Susanna Barouch, lead author of the study and an intern in the laboratory of systemic serology from the Ragon Institute to Cambridge, Massachusettsat the conference.
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The study results were published on the preprint server BioRxiv, but they are currently undergoing peer review and have not yet been published in a scientific journal.
“We thought these results were very important for immediate action public health decision-making,” said Ryan McNamara, director of the laboratory and lead author of the study, in explaining the anticipated release of the data.
“I would need to see more data before saying that combining them is a better strategy.”
As for why the human body produces a higher immune response after a double vaccination, McNamara hypothesized that the simultaneous doses might boost the immune system more than a single shot.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states on its website that “it is recommended that you get your flu and COVID-19 vaccines at the same visit if you are eligible and the timing of each vaccine is correct.”
However, some studies have shown that the combination of the two vaccines could increase the intensity of side effects.
In a 2022 study published in JAMA Network Open, participants who received both injections at the same time experienced up to 11% more side effects, including headaches, muscle pain, and fatigue.
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Other research has suggested that the double injection may slightly increase the risk of stroke in older people.
Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at Langone Medical Center of New York and a Fox News medical contributor, told Fox News Digital that the size of the study was very small, including only 42 health care workers.
“As a result, I would not change my clinical practice,” said Siegel, who was not involved in the research.
“It makes sense that priming the immune system through simultaneous exposure to two antigens (flu and SARS COV-2) can cause a more robust overall immune response,” the doctor continued.
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“But the downside is that if you experience side effects, you won’t know which vaccine caused them, because the most common side effects are somewhat similar, such as muscle achesheadaches and sore arms.”
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Siegel said that in his own practice, he tends to space out vaccinations unless the patient wants the shots given at the same time.
The doctor added: “I would have to see more data before saying that combining them is a better strategy.”
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