Results from the first clinical trial have concluded the co-administering of flu, and the Pfizer or AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines are safe and present only mild side effects.
Researchers from the Combining Influenza and Covid-19 Vaccination (ComFluCov) study supported evidence from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) suggesting that COVID booster jabs be given alongside flu shots in the colder months where appropriate.
Co-administration of flu and COVID jab trial ‘a really positive step’
Blood tests of the trial’s volunteers suggest no negative impact on the immune response to either of the jabs. However, the study noted that one flu jab FluBlok by Sanofi, actually proved more potent when used in conjunction with a Pfizer shot.
The double-vaccine appointments also resulted in only mild to moderate side effects in certain vaccine combinations. The main side effects reported were pain at the injection site, headaches, muscle pain and fatigue.
The clinical trials results were preliminary and not yet peer-reviewed; however, Dr Rajeka Lazarus, the lead scientist on the trial and a consultant in infectious diseases and microbiology at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation Trust, claimed that the results were ‘a really positive step’ and could mean that those eligible for booster shots would need to organise fewer appointments. This ease of access is especially important for those considered vulnerable amongst concerns that immunity to influenza has waned due to COVID lockdowns, meaning this flu season could be more vicious than previous years.
How would co-administration of vaccines work?
Having two vaccines at once may make it seem like you’re getting two vaccines in a single jab, but that’s not quite how it would work. Instead, patients would be given one jab in one arm followed immediately by the second vaccine in the other arm.
During the trial, which took place in 12 NHS centres in England and Wales, involved 679 patients between April and June who had their second shot of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine delivered on one side, with their flu shot given on the other arm in the same appointment.
The volunteers were divided into two groups: those under the age of 65 and those aged 65 and over. During their first appointment, volunteers either received a COVID jab and a placebo or a COVID jab followed by a flu shot. Two to three weeks later, the participants returned for either a placebo shot or a flu jab, depending on which one they missed in the first appointment. Then, after another couple of weeks, the patients returned to give a blood sample and discuss any side effects they may have had.
Around three-quarters of the study’s participants suffered minor side effects like fatigue and pain at the injection site regardless of whether they had the COVID vaccine dose by itself or in combination with a flu jab. On the other end of the spectrum, one person in the study was admitted to hospital with a migraine.
When asked their opinion on the subject, 97% of participants admitted they would be willing to get both their COVID and flu jabs done in one appointment.