The vaccination campaign for seasonal flu is starting. About 6 million people living in the Netherlands will receive an invitation to get the flu jab in the next few months. This involves people who are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill from the flu. Flu is an infectious respiratory disease caused by the flu virus (also known as influenza.

People aged 69 to 73 years will be offered pneumococcal vaccination this autumn. This group includes all people born from 1 January 1948 through 31 December 1952. Pneumococci are bacteria that can cause you to become seriously ill. The pneumococcal vaccination is often given at the same time as the flu jab.

Since 2020, we have also been dealing with the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. Most people in the Netherlands have been vaccinated against the coronavirus. The symptoms caused by coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are similar to the symptoms of flu. COVID-19, flu and pneumococcal disease can all lead to pneumonia. The following overview covers frequently asked questions about COVID-19, the flu and the flu jab, and pneumococcal disease and the pneumococcal vaccination.  

No. It is fine to receive these vaccinations within a short time period. Our immune system can respond to several different pathogens or vaccines at the same time. Infants also receive several vaccinations against different diseases within a short time, to protect them properly.

The flu jab and the pneumococcal vaccination can be given at the same time by your GP. However, there is a waiting period between COVID-19 vaccination and the simultaneous flu jab and pneumococcal vaccination. This is in case you experience any side-effects.

Did you get the flu jab and/or pneumococcal vaccination first? Then you should wait at least 1 week (7 days) before getting the COVID-19 vaccination. In practice, the Municipal Public Health Services (GGDs) will usually vaccinate after two weeks (14 days).

Did you get the COVID-19 vaccination first? Then you should wait at least 2 weeks (14 days) before your GP gives you the flu jab and/or pneumococcal vaccination.
 

Flu and COVID-19

You are less likely to get the flu if you follow the coronavirus measures. Your risk of catching the flu is even lower if you get the flu jab and/or pneumococcal vaccination. You can still get the flu despite all the measures, but even then, the flu jab can protect you from developing serious complications from influenza.

It is possible that people could get flu and COVID-19 at the same time during flu season, but it does not seem likely. These are two different infectious diseases caused by different viruses. People get infected by contact with mucus, saliva and/or snot from other people who are ill and coughing or sneezing.

The measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus also help prevent the flu from spreading. The symptoms of flu and COVID-19 are similar. That is why it is important to stay home and get tested if you have symptoms.

Not all infections involving the flu virus or the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 involve a serious course of illness. A large percentage of people have a relatively mild case. However, there are people who have a higher risk of severe illness resulting from the flu. These people also have a higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19. That may be the case due to older age, or a chronic disease that affects the heart, lungs, kidneys or immune system. 

Some people do have a higher risk of becoming seriously ill from the flu. They receive an annual invitation for the flu jab.

If you have had severe pneumonia due to COVID-19 and then still get the flu afterwards, or the other way around, you could become very ill. A new infection involving a different virus or bacterium in lungs that are already damaged could lead to a more serious course of illness. The recovery phase could be longer or more difficult as a result.

No. There are people who have a higher risk of getting COVID-19, flu, or pneumococcal disease. This may be due to older age, a chronic illness, or decreased immunity due to illness or medication. It is possible to become ill from COVID-19, flu or pneumococcal disease at the same time, but it is unknown how likely that is.

Pneumococcal disease and COVID-19

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Yes, that is possible. However, you are less likely to get pneumococcal disease if you follow all the coronavirus measures.

There are people who have a higher risk of getting COVID-19, flu, or pneumococcal disease. This may be due to their age, a chronic illness, or decreased immunity due to illness or medication. It is unknown how likely it is that someone would have a serious infection with more than one of these at the same time.

The measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 also help prevent pneumococcal bacteria from spreading.  
 

Not all infections involving pneumococcal bacteria or the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 involve a serious course of illness. A large percentage of people do not get ill or develop a relatively mild case. However, there are people who have a higher risk of developing (serious) pneumococcal disease, or are more likely to have a serious course of illness as a result. That usually involves pneumonia. These people often also have a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. That may be the case due to older age, or a chronic disease that affects the heart, lungs, kidneys or immune system. 

If you have had severe pneumonia due to COVID-19 and then develop pneumococcal disease, or the other way around, you could become very ill. A new infection involving a different virus or bacterium in lungs that are already damaged could be more serious. The recovery phase could be longer or more difficult as a result.
 

There are people who have a higher risk of getting COVID-19, flu, or pneumococcal disease. This may be due to their age, a chronic illness, or decreased immunity due to illness or medication. It is unknown how likely it is that someone would have a serious infection with more than one of these at the same time.

The flu jab and the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2

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Did you get the flu jab first? Then you should wait at least 1 week (7 days) before getting the COVID-19 vaccination. If you got the COVID-19 vaccination first, then you should wait at least 2 weeks (14 days) before getting the flu jab. This waiting period is in case you experience any side-effects.

No. The flu jab does not offer protection against coronaviruses of any kind. It offers protection against flu. Flu is caused by flu viruses (influenza). COVID-19 is the disease is caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

No. COVID-19 vaccination does not offer protection against flu viruses. COVID-19 vaccination offers protection against COVID-19. Flu is caused by flu viruses (influenza). COVID-19 is the disease is caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

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It is advisable to get the flu jab as well. COVID-19 vaccination does not protect you against the flu virus, only against the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. The coronavirus and the flu virus are different viruses. You have been offered the flu jab because your age and/or medical condition means that you have a higher risk of becoming seriously ill from the flu. The flu jab makes it less likely that you will get the flu and become seriously ill as a result. It helps you stay as healthy as possible.

No. The flu jab gives protection against flu, and does not have any impact on the course of illness from COVID-19.

The most common side-effects after the flu jab are pain, redness or a slight swelling or tenderness in the area where you had the injection. After the flu jab, you may also have a headache or feel lethargic. These side-effects almost always disappear within 2 days.

Have you developed symptoms of a cold, cough or fever after getting the flu jab? Then please get tested for COVID-19, and in any case stay home until you know the test result. This applies even if you have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

If you have doubts or severe symptoms, always consult your GP or the out-of-hours medical centre.

No, these are two different types of vaccines. 

Yes. Last year, demand for the flu jab was higher than expected. Extra vaccines have been ordered to ensure that we definitely have enough vaccines this year.

Pneumococcal vaccination and coronavirus (COVID-19)

No, the pneumococcal vaccination does not involve a vaccine against COVID-19. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is caused by a virus. Pneumococci are bacteria. The pneumococcal vaccination protects you against the 23 most common types of pneumococci.

If you are invited, it is advisable to get the pneumococcal vaccination as well. COVID-19 vaccination does not protect you against pneumococci. You have been offered the pneumococcal vaccination because your age means that you have a higher risk of becoming seriously ill if you get pneumococcal disease.

No. The respiratory symptoms that can affect your lungs due to COVID-19 are caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and not by pneumococci. The pneumococcal vaccination only protects you against pneumococcal bacteria.

The most common side-effects after the pneumococcal vaccination are pain at the injection site, feeling tired, irritability or reduced appetite. After the pneumococcal vaccination, you may also develop flu-like symptoms, such as headache, elevated temperature, muscle aches, diarrhoea or abdominal pain. That usually goes away within 2 days. 

After getting the flu jab, have you developed symptoms that could indicate COVID-19, such as cold symptoms, cough or fever? Then we advise you to get tested for COVID-19, and in any case to stay home until you know the test result. This applies even if you have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
If you have doubts or severe symptoms, always consult your GP or the out-of-hours medical centre.

Safety measures for getting the flu jab and/or pneumococcal vaccination

Your GP and doctor’s assistants will ensure that everyone can maintain physical distance during the flu vaccination clinic. They will also ask whether people have symptoms that could indicate COVID-19. If someone has possible COVID-19 symptoms, they can get the flu jab and/or pneumococcal vaccination at a later time. It is possible that you will have to get the flu jab and/or pneumococcal vaccination at a different location, for example in a sports hall. Only the care provider who gives you the injection will approach within 1.5 metres. For that reason, the person vaccinating you will wear a surgical mask that covers the mouth and nose.

You can get the flu jab (or other vaccinations) safely by following the coronavirus measures

If you had the flu jab and/or pneumococcal vaccination first, then you should wait at least 1 week (7 days) before getting the COVID-19 vaccination. If you got the COVID-19 vaccination first, then you should wait at least 2 weeks (14 days) before getting the flu jab and/or pneumococcal vaccination. This waiting period is in case you experience any side-effects.
 

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As long as you do not develop any side-effects, you do not need to do anything. The reason for waiting at least 14 days between the COVID-19 vaccination and the flu jab and/or pneumococcal vaccination is to distinguish between possible side-effects of the different vaccinations. If you have side-effects (especially if they are serious), contact your doctor.