Health officials urge people to get their flu shots and booster vaccines

September 13, 2022 /

Health officials are urging people to get their flu shot and the booster vaccine before fall and winter.

“It’s clear that whether you’re vaccinated or you’ve had Covid, if you get this booster, you will get much higher levels of antibody and they are thought to help us get more prolonged protection,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “The other thing that happens is that the immune system responds more broadly, and it looks as though we will get more broad coverage against other variants.”

Some health officials have said that the booster vaccine may be needed only once a year, just like the flu shot.

“For a majority of Americans, one shot a year will provide a very high degree of protection against serious illness, and that’s what we’ve got to be focused on,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, White House coronavirus response coordinator. “Maybe for some high-risk people — the elderly, the immunocompromised — they may need protection more than once a year, but for a majority of Americans, that’s where it is, and I think that’s a really good place to be.”

Lori Tremmel Freeman, CEO of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, said some health departments are planning to have joint vaccine clinics. 

“Jurisdictions are going to be standing up joint flu and Covid vaccine clinics and other opportunities for people to get both their flu vaccine and their Covid updated booster together,” said Freeman.

He also said there is no problem at all with getting both shots at or around the same time.

Schaffner said the ideal time to get the flu shot is during the month of October and maybe the first couple of weeks of November and the reason being, particularly for older people and people who are frail, that will help their protection extend well through February into March, and that’s when flu often peaks in the United States in February.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the updated Pfizer booster is authorized for people 12 and older and Moderna’s is authorized for 18 and older.