Covid-19 and flu vaccines can be given at the same time

People can safely receive the Covid-19 and influenza vaccine at the same time, according to a new study.

The ‘Combining Influenza and Covid-19 Vaccination (ComFluCOV) study’ published as a preprint, found that immune responses to both the influenza and Covid-19 vaccine were preserved when given together, and 97% of participants said they would be willing to have two vaccines at the same appointment in the future.

In the study, two Covid-19 vaccines – the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines – and three flu vaccines were tested, meaning six combinations in all. A total of 679 volunteers took part across 12 NHS sites, including UCLH, in England and Wales, and were randomly allocated into one of two groups:

  • A group who received their second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine at their first study visit, then a saline injection (placebo) at their second visit
  • A group who received their second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and a saline injection (placebo) at their first visit and then the flu vaccine at their second visit.

Participants also attended a third study visit to discuss any side effects they experienced following their second appointment and to give a final blood sample.

The most common side effects were pain around the injection site and fatigue. With some combinations there was an increase in the number of people who reported at least one side effect when both Covid-19 and flu vaccine were given together, but the reactions were mostly mild or moderate.

The study was led by the Bristol Trials Centre, University of Bristol and University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust (UHBW) and funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

At UCLH the study was led by Professor Vincenzo Libri and conducted at the UCLH Vaccine Research Centre, part of the NIHR UCLH Clinical Research Facility.

Professor Libri said: “Our findings strengthen the importance to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and flu viruses and indicate that the two vaccines can be administered safely in parallel during a single appointment, preserving the immune response to both vaccines and enabling the NHS and healthcare systems around the world  to deliver seasonal vaccinations timely and efficiently . We would like to thank all those who took part in this important trial including those at the UCLH Vaccine Research Centre.

Dr Rajeka Lazarus, consultant in infectious diseases and microbiology at UHBW and Chief Investigator for the ComFluCOV study, said: “The results of this study have been presented to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) for their consideration and will aid policy makers in planning the future of these important vaccination programmes.”

Professor Andrew Ustianowski, NIHR Clinical Lead for the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme and Joint National Infection Specialty Lead, said: “This research has quickly provided important and reassuring results that could make vaccination more efficient for both patients and the NHS. I’m proud of NIHR’s role in funding this research that could help to control the COVID-19 pandemic through this upcoming winter.