Bivalent Booster Timing – When to Get a Flu Shot

Most experts agree there is no bad time to get a COVID booster, provided it has been between three and five months since your most recent booster.  As the virus has evolved with the more infectious Omicron variants, scientists have been busy developing new bivalent booster shots for the upcoming fall and winter seasons when more people spend time indoors and students return to in-person classes.  But is there an ideal time for seniors to get their jab?

The FDA recently approved bivalent COVID vaccine boosters for Pfizer and Moderna.  The new boosters have been adjusted to better match Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 strains currently circulating.  To be eligible for this booster, people must be over the age of 12 for the Pfizer booster, over 18 for Moderna, and have completed their primary vaccination series.  It must also be at least six months from the last dose of the primary vaccination.

If you have recently contracted COVID, the Centers for Disease Control recommends waiting until all symptoms have subsided, and for three months before taking a booster shot.  Omicron and its variants are the primary strains of COVID currently circulating. And the previous vaccine boosters don’t offer strong protection against these newer strains.  But the newly approved bivalent doses have been found to boost antibody response. 

According to the American Medical Association, the most common side effects of the bivalent boosters include fatigue, headache, muscle aches, joint aches, chills, nausea, vomiting and some fever.  With flu season approaching, the CDC recommends getting both shots when they become available, ideally before the end of October.  High-dose flu shots are recommended for adults over the age of 65.  People with confirmed or suspected COVID infection should delay getting their flu vaccine until they are free of symptoms and meet the isolation requirements of their municipality to avoid infecting others. 

Canada has also approved the Moderna bivalent booster vaccine for roll-out this fall.  Pfizer has submitted its booster for Canadian approval, which is expected to be received soon.  Learn more about bivalent COVID booster vaccines by following this link to the CDC website. Talk with your doctor to determine what timing and vaccines are most appropriate for you and your health status.