Combining flu and Covid vaccines possible, but caution advised for youth

Combining flu and Covid vaccines possible, but caution advised for youth
Vaccination of a young person. Credit: Belga

Belgium’s Superior Health Council (HGR) announced that combining the Covid-19 vaccination with others, including flu shots, is possible but that care must be taken for young people.

Ahead of this year’s flu season and after being asked by Belgium’s vaccination task force to give advice on simultaneous vaccination in early September, the HGR has now provided clarification on combining protection against the coronavirus with other vaccines shots.

The HGR’s advice stated that simultaneous vaccination may be used, but “it is important to emphasise that when vaccinating young people, priority should always be given to vaccines from the basic vaccination schedule.”

“Young people’s immune systems react more strongly to vaccines, which means they are more likely to have side effects, this is why it can be recommended to leave time between them so it is clear which vaccine causes which side effects,” Gudrun Briat, spokesperson for the Belgian vaccination task force, told The Brussels Times.

This was mirrored in the council’s report, which stated that certain shots from the basic vaccination schedule can have more pronounced side effects, for instance, the DTPA vaccines (against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough) and that young people and adolescents may experience “potentially stronger side effects after Covid-19 vaccination than the elderly.”

Briat explained that it is up to regional authorities to decide whether, for example, the DTPA vaccines are administered in combination with Covid-19 vaccines, and that it is a possibility, not a necessity, to leave two weeks between different vaccines.

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“The reasoning behind this caution is not a health issue, it’s about correctly recording and understanding side effects,” Briat said, adding that in the case of waiting between two vaccinations, the priority shouldn’t be given to the Covid-19 shots.

When Belgium’s vaccination campaign started, this recommendation that Covid-19 shots should be administered at a minimum interval of two weeks before or after the administration of other vaccines was made for the same reason.

However, especially for adults, the council argued that sufficient data has been collected on the safety of Covid-19 vaccines, meaning the precautionary period of 14 days is no longer necessary, as most of the common side-effects of coronavirus vaccines are now well-known.

Specifically related to the simultaneous administering of coronavirus and flu vaccines, the advice cited the ComFluCOV trial conducted by various British universities and the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), which indicated that co-administration of the flu and Covid-19 vaccines is generally well-tolerated with no reduction in the immune response to either vaccine.

So far, little data has been gathered regarding the possibility of combining the available coronavirus vaccines with others. However, the HGR stated that this is also possible.

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