Doctors warn against skipping the flu shot.By Meghan Schiller

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — We’ve been hearing about them for months, and it’s finally time for COVID-19 booster shots.

Doctors recommend getting the booster eight months after the second shot, and for many – that falls smack dab in flu shot season.

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KDKA’s Meghan Schiller asked the experts what people need to know about mixing the two.

“I think ideally it might be two shots this year, but to get them both at the same time would certainly be efficient,” said Dr. Amy Crawford-Faucher, family doctor and Vice Chair of Allegheny Health Network’s Primary Care Institute.

(Photo Credit: KDAK)

KDKA’s cameras were rolling as people lined up for another dose of protection at Allegheny General Hospital.

“I feel much safer because I don’t want to lose my kidney,” said Esperanza Bier.

Bier just received a new kidney and said she’s vaccinated to honor her donor. She’s one of many immunocompromised people now eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot.

“I was in dialysis close to three or four years,” said Bier.

Schiller: How are you feeling now?

Bier: Oh, it’s wonderful.

The CDC just announced we’ll need booster shots for maximum protection, but for many – the third shot overlaps with flu season.

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“When the COVID vaccines first came out, we said no other vaccines within two weeks of a COVID vaccine. So that recommendation changed a few months ago,” said Dr. Crawford- Faucher

But doctors now say people can now get their flu shot and COVID booster shot around the same time. Turns out, people always could, but scientists didn’t want overlap for one reason.

“Because we were just rolling this out to lots of people, we really wanted to be pure in knowing that if you had a reaction, it was due to the COVID vaccine and not from something else you got in your body,” said Dr. Crawford- Faucher.

Top researchers already started discussing a combo shot that covers both the coronavirus and the flu. UPMC’s Dr. Graham Snyder told KDKA expect two shots for now.

“It’s plausible that we could every winter get a combo influenza vaccine and COVID vaccine, but it’s way too early to say that’s going to happen. But that plausibly could happen,” said Dr. Snyder, UPMC’s medical director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology.

People in line for the booster shot at AGH didn’t seem to mind that another shot is in their not-so-distant future.

“I would get the flu shot. I get it every year,” said Marie Geubtner, nurse and booster shot recipient.

“So, I did that booster too, I get all my boosters, all my shots all the time,” said Mary Louise Pastorok, Allegheny Health Network’s booster shot recipient and senior executive assistant.

Doctors warn against skipping the flu shot, saying we won’t see a repeat winter with low flu cases for these reasons:

“A major contributor to the reason we saw no flu virus was because many of us were staying at home, we’re working from home, we’re doing school from home, we were limiting the number of contacts we all had and we were masking,” said Dr. Snyder. “Now, obviously, that has changed and will probably remain changed going into this winter.”

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That’s why doctors say schedule both, in whatever order works out best for your schedule.

Meghan Schiller