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How to decide to bring them together

Pharmacist Ani Martirosyan administers a vaccination to a patient at a CVS on Tuesday, September 12, 2023 in Glendale, California.

Brian Van Der Brug | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images

For the first time, vaccines against Covid, flu and respiratory syncytial virus are available in the United States

Public health officials are urging eligible Americans to take all three vaccines so the country can avoid another “tripledemic” of Covid, flu and RSV, which flooded hospitals last fall and winter. But the fact that some people can now get three shots has raised questions about whether they should take the shots all at once or space them out.

Most people just have to wonder if they should get an update Pfizer Or Modern A Covid vaccine and a flu vaccine at the same time, since both are widely available to all Americans. Public health officials, doctors, and recent research show that taking them during a single visit to the doctor or pharmacy is perfectly safe and effective.

Meanwhile, the estimated 76.5 million adults aged 60 and older are eligible for a new RSV vaccine. Pfizer Or GSK, meaning they’ll have to juggle all three shots this fall. A maternal vaccine from Pfizer protects infants against RSV, but this vaccine is not yet available.

Health experts told CNBC they don’t expect any problems with taking all three shots at the same time.

Yet other experts note that there is little research on giving an RSV shot with another vaccine, or on giving the three plans together. People can choose to get the RSV vaccine if they are more comfortable with it, and do the other two at another time.

The choice is ultimately up to the individual and what they think is most ideal for them, and they should feel free to consult their doctor if in doubt, health experts said.

“There is no evidence that there is a risk of getting all three at the same time,” Dr. Ali Alhassani, a doctor at Boston Children’s Hospital, told CNBC. He noted that administering multiple vaccines is not unusual since children often receive up to five routine immunizations at a time.

Similarly, Dr. Andrew Pekosz, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said he didn’t want “people to think there would be problems with putting them together, because that’s probably not not the case”.

But he also noted that “without data, I don’t want to go too far and give a very strong recommendation that everyone should get all three at the same time.”

The benefits of taking the Covid, flu and RSV vaccines together

Taking all three photos simultaneously could be ideal for people who may not have time to take multiple trips. “By far the biggest benefit of bringing all three together is convenience,” Alhassani said.

Some research even shows that many people don’t return when they need to take a second photo, according to Johns Hopkins’ Pekosz.

For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends two to three doses of an HPV vaccine for some Americans. But studies have shown that the use of HPV injections decreases between the first dose and subsequent doses.

The United States encountered a similar problem during the first Covid vaccine rollout in 2020 and 2021. Many Americans missed their second primary dose.

“It’s clear that if people have to go back to the pharmacy twice, there’s still an attrition rate,” Pekosz told CNBC. “So it’s better to hug them on the same visit than not to receive the second one because you’re too busy to go back.”

Pharmacies allow Americans to schedule multiple vaccine appointments in a single visit. For example, Kroger‘s online scheduling tool allows eligible people to select up to three vaccines to take at one time.

People who use this tool and help Kroger clinicians, pharmacists and physician assistants determine which vaccines are right for them and whether they should take them at the same time, Dr. Marc Watkins, Kroger’s chief medical officer, told CNBC Health.

What to do if you want to space out vaccines

Some people may prefer to wait until the data is available before taking all three photos together. Others may also choose to take the vaccines separately for physical comfort, according to Alhassani of Boston Children’s Hospital.

One of the most common side effects of receiving a vaccine is inflammation or pain at the injection site, he noted. This is why people who need to take two injections during the same doctor visit usually receive one in each arm.

But Alhassani said some people might not want to experience the discomfort of receiving three shots at the same time, whether in one arm or two. This is especially true for people who usually engage in activities that require a lot of arm movement.

“If you play sports and have a big game coming up or you’re a teacher who writes a lot on the board or whiteboard, you use your shoulders and arms a lot,” he said. “So for practical purposes, you might want to say, ‘OK, I just want my left shoulder to be sore today and again next week rather than having it really sore today.'”

If people choose to take all three vaccines separately, they should receive their updated Covid vaccine as soon as possible, their RSV vaccine soon after, and their flu vaccine last, according to Pekosz.

He specifically recommended separating them by a week from each other, saying that with “the more space between them, the more likely it is that people won’t return.”

Pekosz based the vaccine order on the extent of the current spread of these respiratory viruses in the United States.

The updated Covid vaccine should be priority #1 as the virus is already spreading at higher levels. Covid-related hospitalizations increased for the seventh consecutive week in the United States, reaching 17,418 for the week ended August 26, according to the latest CDC data.

RSV cases are also starting to increase. Last week, the CDC alerted doctors of an increase in RSV activity in parts of the Southeast. Regional increases generally predicted the start of the RSV season nationally, the CDC wrote in an advisory opinion.

Meanwhile, Pekosz said “we still don’t really see flu.”

He noted that people can also get their Covid and flu shots at the same time and receive their RSV vaccine a week later. “This way we follow all the science that supports co-administration,” he told CNBC.

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