What is coadministration?
Coadministration of vaccinations is when people who are eligible to be vaccinated against different illnesses receive the different vaccines during the same healthcare visit. For adults, the pneumococcal and flu vaccines can be administered during the same visit(1), and now based on your eligibility, it is possible for you to receive the COVID-19 booster vaccine alongside your influenza vaccine(2) or shortly after your simultaneous influenza and pneumococcal vaccination(3)!
Why consider coadministration?
With the 2022-23 influenza season approaching the Northern Hemisphere, many countries are implementing vaccination programmes for both influenza and COVID-19. Coadministration will allow you to visit your healthcare provider just once for receiving timely protection against both illnesses(4). This saves your time, as you only need to visit your doctor or pharmacist once. Moreover, it helps the healthcare system as there are fewer vaccination appointments to process(4)!
But what does the science say?
As COVID-19 is a relatively recent illness, there is limited evidence of the coadministration of the COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines. We are now starting to see some data evidence on coadministration of the COVID-19 vaccine with the influenza vaccine(4) and the pneumococcal(5) vaccine(5). Although the data for coadministration of COVID-19 and influenza vaccine have not yet undergone peer-review, they show promise that coadministration is acceptable(4).
In October 2021, the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) reviewed a small number of scientific researches and found that there is no evidence of negative immunity interference when the COVID-19 vaccine and influenza vaccine are coadministered(4). The studies also found that coadministration did not change the body’s immune response to the influenza vaccine(4). However, people who received both vaccines did report a higher rate of fatigue, muscle pain and tenderness at the injection site(4). Despite the limitations of the scientific researches (e.g. the lack of peer-reviewed data), the WHO and some health ministries do currently advise for the coadministration of COVID-19 vaccine with influenza(2)(4)(6) and suggest using different limbs when injecting the different vaccines(4)(7).
Considering that we know about how we can catch flu or COVID-19 and how it can have serious implications on our health, it is vital to speak to your healthcare provider about coadministration especially if you or someone you love are at high risk of flu related complications.
(1) Administering pneumococcal vaccines. CDC. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/pneumo/hcp/administering-vaccine.html. Accessed on: 8 August 2022
(2) Flu vaccine. NHS. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenza-vaccine/. Accessed on: 8 August 2022
(3) Frequently asked questions about the flu jab, pneumococcal vaccination and COVID-19. RIVM Committed to health and sustainability. Available at: https://www.rivm.nl/en/flu-and-flu-jab/faqs-flu-jab-pneumococcal-vaccination-and-covid-19. Accessed on: 8 August 2022
(4) Coadministration of seasonal inactivated influenza and COVID-19 vaccines. WHO. Available at: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/WHO-2019-nCoV-vaccines-SAGE_recommendation-coadministration-influenza-vaccines. Accessed on: 8 August 2022
(5) Promising results for COVID-19 and pneumococcal vaccine co-administration. EPR. Available at:https://www.europeanpharmaceuticalreview.com/news/167524/promising-results-for-covid-19-and-pneumococcal-vaccine-co-administration/. Accessed on: 8 August 2022
(6) Frequently Asked Influenza (Flu) Questions: 2022-2023 Season. CDC. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/season/faq-flu-season-2022-2023.htm#Flu-Vaccine-and-COVID-19-Vaccine-Coadministration. Accessed on: 8 August 2022
(7) COVID-19 vaccination programme. Information for healthcare practitioners. UK Health Security Agency. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/…/COVID-19_vaccine_Information_for_healthcare_practitioners_10032022.pdf. Accessed on: 8 August 2022