Yes, you can get your flu and Covid-19 jabs at the same time – just not on the same arm

Business Insider SA

  • You no longer need to wait 14 days between getting your Covid-19 and flu jabs, according to the health department.
  • The only condition is that the vaccines be administered on different arms if you're getting them at the same time.
  • Flu cases in SA usually start to increase sharply around mid-to-late April.
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You can now get your Covid-19 and flu vaccines at the same time, the department of health announced recently, waiving the 14-day waiting period between shots.

The announcement comes as South Africa prepares for a potentially more intense influenza season as winter approaches, and the end of the country's lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Flu cases in SA usually start to increase sharply around mid-to-late April, according to Health24 and tail off around August. The country generally experiences between 6,000 to 11,000 flu-related deaths and 40,000 hospitalisations each year. But flu seasons have been relatively non-existent in 2020 and 2021, as a result of Covid-19 and related restrictions such as school closures during the initial hard lockdown, social distancing, mask-wearing, limits on gatherings, and other public health interventions. 

According to the National Department of Health, you no longer have to wait to co-administer a Covid-19 and influenza jab - but you can't get them in the same arm.

"As Covid-19 vaccinations become available as part of routine health services, it is increasingly likely that co-administration of Covid-19 and other vaccines will be required. Whilst the Covid-19 vaccination programme initially recommended a 14-day interval between an individual receiving a Covid-19 vaccine and any other vaccination, this is no longer required," said Department of Health Director-General Dr Sandile Buthelezi.

Facts about the flu vax

Although both the flu and Covid-19 virus are similar in disease presentation, getting vaccinated for one virus will not help you against the other.

Getting vaccinated annually for flu is important, as the strains of influenza differ each year.

"The flu virus changes every year, this means last year's vaccine will not keep you safe this year. The vaccine helps your immune system fight off the virus by producing antibodies – the soldiers in your body that battle the flu virus," said Head of Operations at Bonitas Medical Fund Dr Morgan Mkhatshwa.

"Flu vaccines available for this year are: The Vaxigrip Tetra, Influvac and Influvac Tetra."

According to Mkhatshwa, those who are advised get the flu vaccine include healthcare workers, individuals over 65 of age, people living with chronic diseases, pregnant women, and people living with HIV/Aids.

Those not eligible for a flu jab include "individuals who are allergic to eggs or egg proteins as the manufacturing process for the vaccine involves the use of chicken eggs," Mkhatshwa added.

Others include:

  • Infants under six months of age – the vaccines are not licensed for use in such young children
  • Individuals who may have had a severe reaction to a flu vaccine in the past – if you are unsure discuss with your healthcare provider
  • Individuals who may be suffering from flu symptoms already

"By having the flu vaccine you protect others, who may be vulnerable family members, small babies, the elderly or those who are immune compromised. As with Covid-19, the more people vaccinate the closer we can get to 'herd immunity’'," said Mkhatshwa.

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