Vaccine timing for COVID-19, flu & RSV: What to know

Health experts are betting on a trio of vaccines to help prevent a repeat of last fall and winter, when a simultaneous surge of COVID-19, flu and respiratory syncytial virus overwhelmed hospitals. 

"We're going to have three bugs out there, three viruses," Mandy Cohen, MD, the new CDC director, told NBC News in a July 22 report. "We need to make sure the American people understand all three and what they can do to protect themselves." 

For the first time, Americans most at risk of severe illness from RSV will have access to shots that protect against it. In May, the FDA approved vaccines from Pfizer and GSK meant for adults 60 and older. On July 17, the FDA also approved a drug jointly developed by AstraZeneca and Sanofi to prevent the illness in children 24 months and younger. CDC advisors are set to meet in early August to make recommendations on the pediatric monoclonal antibody, and its makers expect it will be ready to roll out by fall. 

In terms of timing each shot, "I think most of us are going to recommend it's OK to get flu and COVID-19 vaccines together, but wait a bit until you get the RSV [shot]," William Schaffner, MD, infectious disease expert and professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., told NBC. That's because there is limited evidence flu and RSV vaccines could reduce the effectiveness of the other when administered together.

Administering shots together is seen as a potential way to combat vaccine hesitancy, though there is still limited evidence on the safety and effectiveness of administering all three vaccines in the same visit.


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