Flu season is here. And like last year, we are facing flu and coronavirus. But this year, we have a coronavirus vaccine! That is leading to questions about the flu vaccine, the coronavirus vaccine and what to do.

Here are answers to some of the most common questions about the vaccines for flu and COVID.

Is it safe to get the flu vaccine and the COVID vaccine together? 

You can get both flu and COVID vaccines together. No waiting period is necessary between shots. This is true no matter which COVID vaccine you received.

What are the possible side effects? 

You may have fevers, body aches, soreness of the arm from either shot. These mild reactions should not deter you from protecting yourself and your family. Please go ahead and get your flu shot this year. 

If I've been vaccinated against COVID will that protect me from the flu?

No. You must be vaccinated with both vaccines in order to be protected from both COVID and flu. They are two different viruses. The flu vaccine does not protect you from COVID, and the COVID vaccine doesn’t protect you from the flu. 

How can I tell the difference between flu and COVID?

Unfortunately, it is hard to distinguish flu from coronavirus symptoms because there is a lot of overlap. Symptoms for both may include body aches, fevers, chills.  The only way to determine which virus you have is to be tested with a nasal swab. Also, it is important to self-isolate until you have results. If your results are positive, consult your healthcare provider about further steps.

The benefits of preventive measures

Last year’s flu season was practically non-existent, thanks to increased handwashing, social distancing and wearing masks. We’d like to see a flu season like that again this year.  

There are steps we can all take to prevent the spread of germs, but the most important may be a vaccine. You can learn more about flu vaccine during the coronavirus pandemic in this post.

Most importantly, please remember, vaccines save lives. Now is the perfect time of the season for your flu shot. And if you haven’t yet gotten a COVID vaccine, it’s not too late. 

Karen Tashima, MD

Karen Tashima, MD, is the director of clinical trials at the Immunology Center, and is the clinical research site leader for The Miriam Hospital, a research site of the Harvard/Boston/Providence AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) Unit. She also oversees the Lifespan Clinical Research Center collaboration with the specimen processing laboratory at The Miriam Hospital.