How safe is getting a COVID booster and a flu vaccine simultaneously?
The Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce is arguably the best tight end in the NFL. Recently, he appeared in a commercial sponsored by Pfizer and aired during NFL games promoting getting a COVID booster and a flu vaccine simultaneously, showing two parallel band-aids on his arm, with the pitch being it saves time (“two things at once”). You can see the commercial on his Instagram page. Given Kelce also appeared recently in a Bud Light commercial and is rumored to be dating Taylor Swift, some conservatives are calling him out for triple wokeness.
But how safe is getting both vaccines simultaneously? A CDC-funded JAMA study published July 15, 2022, by researchers from the CDC and Emory University, looked into this very question, recording adverse events reported in the period September 22, 2021 to May 1, 2022 for one week following the injections through v-safe, a self-reporting app, for 92,023 receiving the booster and the flu vaccine simultaneously, compared to 889,076 receiving the booster alone. (Note: the study excluded the 2,647 who got more than these two vaccines simultaneously. All I can say to this group is: “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do you feel lucky? Well do ya, punk?”) According to the Key Points:
Findings In this cohort study of self-reported data from 981099 persons aged 12 years or older, simultaneous administration of a COVID-19 mRNA booster dose and an influenza vaccine was associated with 8% to 11% increases, respectively, in systemic reaction compared with COVID-19 mRNA booster alone. These differences were statistically significant.
Similarly, at the end of the abstract:
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE In this study, compared with administration of COVID-19 mRNA booster vaccines alone, simultaneous administration of COVID-19 mRNA booster and seasonal influenza vaccines was associated with significant increases in reports of systemic reactions during days 0 to 7 following vaccination. These results may help better characterize the outcomes…
And this in the Results section:
In the week following vaccination, any systemic reactions were reported by 36144 (58.9%) of 61390 respondents who simultaneously received Pfizer-BioNTech booster and influenza vaccines and 21027 (68.6%) of 30633 respondents who simultaneously received Moderna booster and influenza vaccines.
Yet the CDC link to the JAMA study saying you can get both shots simultaneously merely says this:
A CDC study published this summer showed people who got a flu vaccine and an mRNA COVID-19 booster vaccine at the same time were slightly more likely (8% to 11%) to have reactions including fatigue, headache, and muscle ache than people who only got a COVID-19 mRNA booster vaccine, but these reactions were mostly mild and went away quickly. The findings of this study are consistent with safety data from clinical trials that did not find any safety concerns with giving both vaccines at the same time.
Before you say the CDC is dishonest and Kelce is an idiot, a look at Tables 2 and 3 in the study does reveal that just about all of these events were mild and temporary, and that those receiving just the booster had very similar numbers. However, a few observations: a) While hospitalizations are reported in the table, deaths, if any, were not reported. b) While the numbers in each age group are supplied in the demographics of Table 1, the outcomes are not separated by age group. c) Adverse events occurring after one week will be missed. d) One can ask whether v-safe is the ideal reporting platform.
The drugstores are certainly all-in, e.g., Walgreen's:
Multiple vaccines in one easy visit
Did you know the CDC says you can get more than one vaccine at the same time? Stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccine and others like pneumococcal (pneumonia), shingles and more.
That said, you can still say the CDC is dishonest and Kelce is an idiot: the CDC not just for minimizing the significance of the side effects in this instance, but also for past behavior, such as advocating masks against the evidence and for letting Randi Weingarten and the American Federation of Teachers dictate its COVID school policy, as well as its current dishonesty on the relationship between vaccines and myocarditis, to the point it’s hard to trust the CDC on anything; and Kelce for getting a booster (not to mention a simultaneous flu shot) apparently without weighing the current COVID virus vs. booster risks (including unknown longer-term) for a healthy, fit, 33-year-old athlete in his prime.
W.A. Eliot is a pseudonym
Image: All-Pro Reels