Kathy Griffin is setting a healthy example as the country heads into its second cold and flu season during the pandemic. The comedian took care of two crucial vaccines at once this week, protecting herself against both COVID-19 and the flu virus.
On October 5, Griffin shared a photo of herself on Twitter getting a COVID-19 booster shot in one arm. In the photo, Griffin is sporting a bandage from her seasonal flu shot on her other arm. “Ummm, just got 3rd shot of Moderna AND a flu shot in the other arm,” wrote Griffin, who recently revealed she was diagnosed with stage I lung cancer (despite having never smoked) and underwent surgery on her lung. “YES FEAR ME,” the comedian added.
Getting simultaneously vaccinated against the flu and COVID-19—including a booster dose, if you are eligible—is a good idea in many cases. With the novel coronavirus still spreading in the U.S. and flu season right around the corner, the priority is getting protected against both diseases as soon as possible, as Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has explained.
“If that means going in and getting the flu shot in one arm [and] the COVID shot in the other,” including a booster, “that’s perfectly fine,” Dr. Fauci said. “There’s nothing wrong with that at all. In fact, that might make it more convenient and more likely that you would actually go get both of them if you can do it conveniently in one visit.” He added, “So, whatever it takes to get both of them, go ahead and do it. If it’s one visit, it’s perfectly fine.”
Griffin shared her cancer diagnosis in August, when she underwent surgery “to have half of my left lung removed.” Griffin said in a tweet that her medical team was “optimistic” about her prognosis because they caught the cancer at an early stage when it was still confined to her left lung. “Hopefully no chemo or radiation after this and I should have normal function with my breathing,” she wrote, adding that she also expected to recover from surgery quickly: “I should be up and running around as usual in a month or less.”
It’s extremely important for people with cancer to be fully vaccinated against both COVID-19 and the flu because they have a higher risk of severe illness with both viruses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Underlying lung conditions (including lung cancer) also make people more vulnerable to severe illness with respiratory viruses, including complications like pneumonia. COVID-19 especially can cause lung damage and respiratory complications like long-term reduced lung capacity, as SELF has explained.
Many people with cancer should also get a COVID-19 booster shot, since certain cancer treatments (including chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery) or the cancer itself can compromise the body’s ability to mount a robust immune response with the initial vaccination, as the American Cancer Society explains. The CDC currently recommends that moderately or severely immunocompromised individuals who got the two-dose mRNA vaccine get a third dose to boost the vaccine’s protective effect.
While, again, it is generally safe to get both shots at once, it’s a good idea or talk to your doctor about timing the shots and any questions or concerns you have, as SELF has reported.