Infectious Disease

Common Questions About Flu or COVID Shots

As cold weather approaches, flu season is starting to ramp up. Our Infectious Disease specialists have information they want to share about how best to protect your health heading into winter.

Nov. 2, 2022 5   min read

It’s the same situation every year: as the weather gets colder, people get together indoors. Viruses and diseases such as flu, COVID-19, RSV, and others spread more quickly and easily in these environments.

Wearing a mask in public places over the next few months can help to reduce the spread of these viruses and is strongly encouraged by health care providers. Another simple way to keep your holidays healthy is to get your COVID-19 booster and flu shots.

For answers on common questions about flu, COVID-19, and the best ways to stay healthy, we turned to Rochester Regional Health Infectious Disease specialist Emil Lesho, DO.

When is the best time to get the updated COVID-19 booster shot?

Anyone looking to get the updated COVID-19 booster dose should do it any time in early November. Since it has elements of the latest strains of the virus, it is more effective than the previous COVID boosters.

People ages 5 and older can get a booster dose at least two months after the second dose of the vaccine.

“Many experts are predicting there will be another COVID-19 peak around December or January,” Dr. Lesho said. “Getting a COVID booster in the next few weeks will ensure your immune system has strong protection against the virus during those months – especially if you are planning travel on airplanes or public transit.”

If you have had a COVID-19 infection in the last 90 days, you can wait for several more weeks to get your booster dose because your body has some increased immunity from prior infection.

When is the best time to get my flu shot?

Similar to the COVID booster, anyone looking to get their annual flu shot should do so in early November. Flu shots are available for anyone ages 6 months and older.

Influenza is widely prevalent across New York state, including several infections confirmed at Rochester Regional Health. There are currently more cases of flu now than there were at this point last year.

When preparing for an impending flu season, scientists in North America look at data from the Southern Hemisphere in places such Australia and New Zealand. Their flu seasons usually mirror flu seasons in the U.S. Right now, the Australian flu season is the worst it’s been in the last 5-6 years – a sign that the U.S. flu season could be similar.

To get the highest level of protection against serious illness and hospitalization when cases are predicted to peak in the U.S., get a flu shot ASAP. Flu shots are available at most primary care provider offices or local pharmacies.

I am pregnant. Should I still get my COVID booster and flu shot?

In short, yes.

Both the COVID booster and flu shots are safe for the mother and fetus during pregnancy – science that is backed by trusted physicians with the American College of Gynecology and Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine.

Women who are pregnant are at an increased risk of having severe complications if they are infected with COVID-19 or flu, so getting both of these shots should help to lessen that risk.

Pregnant women should still bring up any concerns to their OBGYN in case they have any serious conditions that could pose a health concern.

Should I schedule different appointments or get both shots at the same time? 

Both the flu shot and COVID booster shot are safe and effective. Whether to get them at the same time is a personal decision.

If scheduling two separate appointments might be difficult, getting both shots at the same time might be the right decision. These shots are not less effective if they are administered at the same time.

On the other hand, if someone tends to have a more noticeable reaction to a vaccine dose (e.g., severe arm soreness, flu-like symptoms), getting one shot in two separate appointments may minimize their chances of having a stronger reaction.

“Getting the flu shot and updated COVID-19 booster shot are not a silver bullet in preventing all infection. They are, however, incredibly effective at keeping people from becoming severely ill, being hospitalized, or dying,” Dr. Lesho said. “The next few weeks will be critical in ensuring we protect ourselves as best as we can against these illnesses.”

NEXT STEPS Protect Your Health

With flu and COVID-19 cases rising, our experienced physicians are encouraging everyone to get the most protection they can to keep them as healthy as possible. We want to ensure you have everything you need to know about flu and COVID-19 treatment and prevention – to keep yourself and your loved ones as healthy as possible.

Learn More