This Is How Long You Need Between The Flu Jab And Covid Vaccine

This week, HuffPost UK reader Julia asked: "How long do I have to wait after having the flu vaccine to have the Covid vaccine?"

Every Monday, we’ll answer your questions on Covid-19 and health in a feature published online. You can submit a question here.

This week, HuffPost UK reader Julia asked: “How long do I have to wait after having the flu vaccine to have the Covid vaccine?”

Most people prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccine will have already been called up to receive their flu vaccine – and should hopefully have had it.

But for those who’ve not yet had chance to get their flu jab, how long should they leave between having that vaccine and the Covid-19 vaccine, if they’re eligible for both?

Scheduling for the two jabs should ideally be separated by an interval of at least seven days, spokespeople from Public Health England (PHE) and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) tell HuffPost UK.

This is because if you had both the vaccines in the space of a few days of each other – or at the same time – and then had an allergic reaction, it would be hard for doctors to tell which vaccine had caused the adverse effects.

“Because of the absence of data on co-administration with Covid-19 vaccines, it should not be routine to offer appointments to give this vaccine at the same time as other vaccines,” a PHE’s spokesperson says.

Health chiefs have urged people with long-term medical conditions to get the flu vaccine before the virus properly starts to circulate. So far this year, just 46.8% of people with a long-term health condition and under the age of 65 have had the flu vaccine.

While vaccine coverage in this group is higher than it has been at this point compared to the last six flu seasons, it still lags behind coverage in other eligible groups. This year has seen the highest ever recorded flu vaccine uptake among older people, for example.

With those most vulnerable to flu also being at high risk of severe illness from Covid-19, health professionals have said it’s more important than ever that eligible people get the free flu vaccine as soon as possible.

As it stands, because the vaccine is so new, we don’t really know how the Covid-19 vaccine and flu vaccine would interact with one another, as no data on co-administration of the Covid-19 vaccine with other vaccines exists.

But in the absence of such data, it’s been suggested that interference between the flu and Covid-19 vaccines, which have different antigenic content (the content which causes your immune system to produce antibodies against an illness) is “likely to be limited”.

“Based on experience with other vaccines, any potential interference is most likely to result in a slightly attenuated [reduced] immune response to one of the vaccines,” says PHE’s spokesperson, before adding “there is no evidence of any safety concerns.”

If you can’t leave a space of seven days between having the two vaccines, where does that leave you? For now, PHE suggests that where individuals in an eligible cohort have received another vaccine, Covid-19 vaccination should still be considered.

The same applies for other vaccines where Covid-19 vaccination has been received first.

“In many cases, vaccination should proceed to avoid any further delay in protection and to avoid the risk of the patient not returning for a later appointment,” says PHE.

“In such circumstances, patients should be informed about the likely timing of potential adverse events relating to each vaccine.”

People do not have to have had a flu jab in order to have the Covid-19 vaccine.

Is there an order that works best to have both the vaccines in?

“There’s no preference on either vaccine first,” says a DHSC spokesperson, “but the current Covid vaccine rollout is obviously limited and by the time most people are offered the Covid-19 vaccine, they will likely have been offered the flu vaccine already.”

Experts are still learning about Covid-19. The information in this story is what was known or available at the time of publication, but guidance could change as scientists discover more about the virus. To keep up to date with health advice and cases in your area, visit gov.uk/coronavirus and nhs.uk.