This was first published on Aug. 24, 2021.

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As COVID-19 news fills headlines, there’s another vaccine we need to consider. Flu shots are already available at some pharmacies.

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We wanted to know: Can you get the flu shot and the COVID vaccine? And what can we expect from the upcoming flu season? Good Question.

More than 3 million Minnesotans have rolled up their sleeves this year, taking a brief jab in the arm to protect themselves from COVID-19. Now, medical professionals hope those same people are willing to visit pharmacies and clinics again.

If I’ve already received the COVID-19 vaccine, can I get a flu shot?

“Yes, in fact you can get both of those vaccines at the same time,” said Kris Ehresmann, infectious disease director for the Minnesota Department of Health.

Many WCCO spoke with Tuesday expected to hear that the flu and COVID-19 vaccines need to be administered several weeks apart. Initially, that was the guidance from the CDC.

“That changed when there was the authorization to provide the vaccine for adolescents. So, originally there had been recommendations to give a bit of time but it changed last May,” said Ehresmann.

Are the vaccines interacting with each other in our body? Ehresmann said no, adding, “There are some situations with some live-virus vaccine in which you need to have space between them. But right now with the COVID vaccine, it’s not a problem to get other vaccines at the same time. It is not a live-virus vaccine.”

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Whether it’s the first COVID-19 vaccine dose, second, third, or potentially a booster shot later this fall, all can be taken on the same day as the flu shot.

Will the flu be a concern this year?

“I think it will,” said Annette Howell of New Hope. “If they’re gonna start school back, they’re send people back to work, people gonna be interacting with each other, children interacting with each other, you got people coughing, sneezing, people touching surfaces.”

Last season, the flu barely spread in Minnesota partly because people were so focused on stopping COVID. There were lockdowns, mask mandates, children doing distance learning, and adults working from home.

“We’re in a completely different place now,” said Ehresmann. “We have seen that many infectious diseases, while they were on pause during the first year of COVID, we are seeing them come back with a vengeance.”

Ehresmann said flu seasons are hard to predict, and that a mild season doesn’t foreshadow another mild season in the following year.

“We don’t know what to expect this flu season, but I certainly wouldn’t expect that it could be as quiet as last season,” she said.

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If you feel sick this fall and test negative for COVID, medical experts still want you to stay home. That way you don’t risk spreading the flu or other illnesses you might have.

Jeff Wagner