Boris Johnson has promised the nation will see its biggest flu vaccination programme to date this autumn, following concerns that a surge in infections could cause the NHS to topple under pressure. New findings released by the University of Bristol have now confirmed that administering the COVID-19 and flu vaccine at the same time will not lessen the efficacy of either shot, which may help simplify immunisation efforts ahead of winter. The study highlighted which two side effects may result from receiving both shots on the same day.
Participants who attended a third study visit discussed the side effects experienced following their second appointment.
The two commonly reported side effects were pain around the injection site and fatigue.
These reported side effects were typically mild to moderate in tests with three flu vaccines and either Pfizer or AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot.
Doctor Rajeka Lazarus, the consultant in infectious diseases and microbiology and Chief Investigator for the ComFluCOV study, said: “By conducting this study we have been able to establish that it is possible to protect people from both COVID-19 and flu at the same appointment.
“This is a positive step which could mean fewer appointments for those who require both vaccines, reducing the burden on those who have underlying health conditions and would usually be offered the influenza vaccine.
“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.”
It had previously been believed that routine vaccinations carried out together can cause shots to interfere with each other.
The new findings, however, have confirmed that older people could receive both shots together, helping to simplify vaccine administration this winter.
Chris Rogers Professor of Medical Statistics and Clinical Trials and Director of Bristol Trials Centre at the University of Bristol, said: “We are delighted to have worked with doctor Lazarus to successfully deliver this important study and would like to thank all the volunteers who took part.
The findings come as Professor Linda Bauld, a public health expert from the University of Edinburgh warned that Britain may face “twindemic” this winter, as the lifting of lockdown restrictions could see a host of viruses surge.
A report by the Academy of Medical Sciences released in August warned that a surge in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza could overwhelm the NHS.
The report warned that the nation could face abnormally large outbreaks of RSV and influenza during the autumn and winter months this year.
Professor Bauld concluded that it is imperative “people take up the influenza vaccine as well as the coronavirus vaccine”.