Can You Get Both The Shingles And Flu Shot At The Same Time?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses getting the flu and shingles shot at the same time.

Question

What do you do if a patient got shingles shot two days ago and now wants a flu shot? Is this okay or does there need to be a longer waiting period?

Asked by Jen On Sep 12, 2021

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By HelloPharmacist Staff

On Sep 12, 2021

Key points

  • The shingles vaccine, Shingrix, is safe to receive at the same time as the flu vaccine. No waiting period is needed.
  • If Shingrix and the flu vaccine are administered at the same time, they should be at different anatomic sites (e.g. one in the right arm and one in the left).

Hi Jen and thanks for reaching out to us.

It's always a challenge to accurately estimate how severe a particular flu season is going to be.

While the 2020-2021 flu season wasn't too severe, most likely due to the precautions taken during the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2019-2020 season was quite widespread.

In the United States, it’s estimated that influenza spread to 39-56 million people, leading to 740,000 hospitalizations and 62,000 deaths. It would have been a much more mild year if every eligible adult received an influenza vaccination.

A common question about vaccines is whether or not you can receive multiple at the same time, and if you can't, how long to separate them by.

So, let's talk about both of the vaccines in question here.

Shingrix Vaccine

A recombinant vaccine is usually made by inserting DNA onto the surface of a virus or bacterial protein structure, allowing your body to create an immune response.

In addition to the herpes zoster antigen, Shingrix also contains, an ingredient known as an adjuvant, which increases our immune response to the vaccine, making it more effective.

An important note about the Shingrix vaccine is that it is not a live vaccine. It is classified as a recombinant, adjuvanted vaccine.

Flu Vaccines

The flu vaccine is made in a few different ways.

There is a recombinant flu vaccine as well as an inactivated vaccine.

Inactivated vaccines are weakened flu viruses grown in eggs, then killed and purified. Both types of vaccines produce a similar immune response, and contain only fragments of the actual influenza virus - they cannot give you the flu.

Shingrix And The Flu Shot Together?

The good news is that you don’t have to wait any period of time between your shingles vaccine and flu shot.

They are safe to be given at the same time or with any spacing in between, and you will get the same immune response. You can get your flu vaccine today if you’d like to!

CDC (Centers for Disease Control) guidelines state that recombinant and adjuvanted vaccines like, Shingrix and the various flu shots, are safe to give together, as long as they are administered at different sites of the body. Per the CDC:

CDC’s general best practice guidelines for immunization advise that recombinant and adjuvanted vaccines, such as RZV, can be administered concomitantly, at different anatomic sites, with other adult vaccines.

Several studies have shown that co-administration of the Shingrix vaccine and flu shot is safe, and there is no decrease in the immune response to either vaccine.

One such study, published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, concluded the following:

No interference in the immune responses to either vaccine [Shingrix & Fluarix] was observed when the vaccines were coadministered, and no safety concerns were identified.

In general, only live vaccines need to be separated apart from each other if not given at the same time, but there are exceptions, so please continue to double-check before you get any new vaccines.

I hope this helps. Feel free to write us in the future with any additional questions!

References

  • Frequently Asked Influenza (Flu) Questions, CDC
  • 2019-2020 U.S. flu season: preliminary burden estimates., CDC
  • How Influenza (Flu) Vaccines Are Made, CDC
  • Timing and Spacing of Immunobiologics, ACIP
  • Frequently Asked Questions About Shingrix, CDC
  • Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for Use of Herpes Zoster Vaccines, CDC
  • Immunogenicity and Safety of an Adjuvanted Herpes Zoster Subunit Vaccine Coadministered With Seasonal Influenza Vaccine in Adults Aged 50 Years or Older, PubMed

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Brian Staiger, PharmD

Dr. Brian has been practicing pharmacy for over 11 years and has wide-ranging experiences in many different areas of the profession. From retail, clinical and administrative responsibilities, he's your knowledgeable and go-to source for all your pharmacy and medication related questions!

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