Is it Safe to Get Multiple Vaccines?

Traditional Cold and Flu Season
Vaccines are a hot topic as we move into the traditional cold and flu season and flu vaccine clinics are widely available. Crowding the vaccine discussion is the highly anticipated Covid 19 vaccine, though still in development, it is on the fast track for approval and the first rounds of distribution within the next few months. Time and science will tell if the Covid 19 vaccine will be a single injection or a two-dose vaccine. Pneumonia is also a concern during the winter months, especially for the over 65 population. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is encouraging routine vaccines.

Rolling up Your Sleeve
Should people be concerned about getting the flu vaccine and then the Covid 19 vaccine within a few months and for seniors, factoring in the pneumonia vaccine? Ambulatory Pharmacist, Dr. David Totton, PharmD, of Shore Physicians Group specializes in taking a comprehensive medical assessment of each patient’s prescription medications and vaccinations along with any herbal supplements and over the counter products. According to Totton there is no reason to be concerned about getting the vaccines in close proximity.

According to Dr. Totton, “As outlined by the CDC, Scientific data show that getting several vaccines at the same time does not cause any chronic health problems. When every new vaccine is licensed, it has to be tested along with the vaccines already recommended. All approved vaccines have been shown to be as effective in combination as they are individually. Furthermore, it is already common practice to give multiple vaccinations at once and some formulations even contain multiple vaccines combined into one shot. These vaccination strategies have all been proven to be safe and effective.”

Adding Shingles and Pneumonia Vaccines into the Mix
Both the shingles and the pneumonia vaccines are fairly common for seniors, but should those over 65 be concerned about getting them this year along with their annual flu shot with the knowledge of the Covid 19 vaccine on the horizon? Dr. Totton said it is best to proceed with routine vaccinations as recommended. “Delaying vaccination only prolongs the time in which you lack protection from preventable diseases and put you and your family at greater risk. The newer shingles vaccine, Shingrix is recommended for all adults over the age of 50. Pneumonia vaccination is routinely recommended for adults age 65 and older but may be given sooner depending upon your other health problems, smoking status and risk of pneumonia,” said Dr. Totton.

Can you overload on Vaccines?
“There is no such thing as an overload of vaccines,” said Dr. Totton. “Our current vaccination schedule and recommendations are the culmination of decades of research into proper vaccine timing. As mentioned earlier, all approved vaccines are tested in combination with one another as recommended to ensure they are producing the immune response that we need while also maintaining the health and safety of the patient.” Totton advised that patients should discuss any questions related to vaccines with their primary care physician at their next appointment.

Importance of vaccines during pandemic
According to the CDC, efforts to reduce transmission of Covid 19 such as stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, have led to decreased use of routine preventive medical services, including immunization services. Ensuring that routine vaccination is maintained or reinitiated during the COVID-19 pandemic is essential for protecting individuals and communities from vaccine-preventable diseases and outbreaks. Routine vaccination prevents illnesses that lead to unnecessary medical visits, hospitalizations and further strain the healthcare system. For the 2020-2021 influenza season, flu vaccination will be paramount to reduce the impact of respiratory illnesses attributed to influenza in the population and resulting burdens on the healthcare system during the pandemic. Communicating the importance of vaccination to patients and parents/caregivers as well as the safety protocols and procedures outlined in this guidance can help provide reassurance to those who may otherwise be hesitant to make an appointment for vaccination visits.

CDC Vaccine Recommendations during the Pandemic
According to CDC guidelines, routine vaccination is an essential preventive care service for children, adolescents, and adults (including pregnant women) that should not be delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of COVID-19-related reductions in people accessing vaccination services, the CDC is reminding all physicians that it is important to assess the vaccination status of all children and adolescents at each patient visit to avoid missed opportunities for vaccination and ensure timely vaccine catch-up. All vaccines due or overdue should be administered according to the recommended schedule, unless a specific contraindication exists, to provide protection as soon as possible as well as minimize the number of healthcare visits necessary.

Dr. Totton is seeing patients at all Shore Physicians Group’s primary care offices. To make a Medicare Annual Wellness Visit appointment, contact your SPG primary care provider.