With flu season nearing, doctors are encouraging individuals to get the flu shot, and are informing parents that it is safe to get both the flu and COVID vaccines at the same time.
Pediatrician Dr. Hollis Redmon is one of those physicians. Redmon says that doctors are anticipating a challenging flu season, especially with COVID cases likely to continue through the fall and winter months.
“We are anticipating a rough flu season, so with COVID and the flu together, that’s a set up for a lot of severe illnesses and these vaccines are what’s going to help us get through this,” Redmon said.
Currently, children age 12 and older are permitted to get the Pfizer COVID vaccine under terms of the FDA’s emergency use authorization for the treatment. Experts anticipate that the vaccine will soon be approved for children between the ages of 5 and 11.
“Parents are excited that the FDA and CDC are lowering the age range, and we are too,” Redmon said. “We can’t wait to be able to vaccinate younger children.”
Early in the pandemic, the CDC had recommended spacing out vaccinations, but has announced that further research indicates that getting both the COVID and flu shots at the same time is safe and effective in preventing both illnesses.
The flu was extremely limited during the 2020-21 season, as masking and social distancing helped to reduce case levels dramatically. According to the CDC, just one seasonal flu-related death was reported among children during flu season, a dramatic decrease from the nearly 200 that had died the previous year.
Parents say they are hopeful that COVID vaccinations will be approved for children in the near future, adding one more line of defense against seasonal illness.
“We’ve been taking all guidelines very seriously, and doing the best we can to protect (our son) and knowing he can’t get the vaccine is really hard, so we’re hoping soon we can get it,” parent Jen Austin said.
Currently, the flu vaccine is recommended for all individuals aged six months and older, according to CDC guidelines.