Will the booster jab affect the flu jab and can you have them at the same time?

By Katie Dickinson

Coronavirus booster jabs may be given to people over the age of 50 at the same time as flu jabs, the chief executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has said.

Dr June Raine told a Downing Street briefing: "The data reviewed showed that giving the booster jabs with flu vaccines at the same time is safe and does not affect an individual's immune response to either vaccine.

"Therefore, Covid-19 booster doses may be given at the same time as flu vaccines.

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"We have in place a comprehensive safety strategy for monitoring the safety of all Covid-19 vaccines, and this surveillance includes the booster jabs.

"As with first and second doses, if anyone has any suspected side effects, please report using Yellow Card."

She added that the Moderna, Pfizer, and Astra-Zeneca vaccines can safely be used as booster jabs.

Professor Wei Shen Lim of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation suggested people eligible for flu shots could have a jab in each arm, with a Covid-19 booster administered at the same time.

He told a Downing Street press conference: "We have heard from the MHRA and from clinical trial data that it so happens that if somebody is called up to have the Covid vaccine and the flu vaccine on the same day that it is safe to have both vaccines co-administered - usually in different arms, but they can be co-administered on the same day."

Professor Wei Shen Lim said the Pfizer and Moderna jabs were being recommended for the booster programme because they were effective and well-tolerated.

He told journalists the recommendation was based on clinical trial data, including the UK's Cov-Boost study.

That trial showed the mRNA vaccines gave "very good immune boosting" after an initial course of either Pfizer or AstraZeneca jabs.

The Pfizer jab is "well-tolerated and has a good effect" and is the preferred choice, but alternatively a half-dose of Moderna could be administered.

AstraZeneca shots should be considered as boosters for patients who cannot have mRNA jabs, he added.

The deputy chief medical officer for England, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, said a vaccine which combines protection against flu and coronavirus could be developed in future.

He told the press conference: "One day I guess it's possible that the developers will come up with bivalent vaccines - in other words, flu and Covid in the same jab.

"It's really not beyond the bounds of scientific possibility when you consider just how amazing a job it has been to get to where we have got to in such a short time.

"So that's always a possibility for the future."

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