Who should get the pneumonia shot? Can you get multiple vaccines on the same day? Who should get the shingles shot and why? In Episode 23 of the Healthy Matters Podcast, I get these answers from my colleague Dr. Kate Hust, medical director of the Internal Medicine Clinic at Hennepin Healthcare.

We’re all accustomed to getting vaccines, but the COVID-19 pandemic brought discussion about them to the forefront of many conversations. I wanted to get the latest information from Dr. Hust about the COVID boosters, immunity and when and why we should consider getting the next shot.

“The latest booster vaccine, which we refer to as the bivalent booster, is available both from Pfizer and Moderna,” she explained. “And it prevents against additional strains of COVID compared to what our initial COVID vaccines were. It’s for everyone ages 12 and older.”

And what if you’ve already had COVID? How long should you wait before you get a booster? Dr. Hust said that you have your own protection, thanks to antibodies that your body produced, for up to about three months after getting the illness.

“You don’t have to rush out and get the vaccine. As long as you have recovered from COVID and are out of your quarantine period it’s safe for you to get the vaccine, but you also have a little space if you wanted to wait up to three months.”

We also talked about influenza and flu shots. Anyone who’s had the flu will be the best advocate for the annual flu shot. People who have had the flu tell me that it “hit them like a Mac truck.” I’ve had patients explain how they practically know they hour their flu symptoms hit. “I was fine at breakfast, and by lunch I was fatigued, had the chills and was coughing… it just hit me so fast.”

“Everybody can get the flu shot,” said Dr. Hust. “We recommend it starting from infancy and above. If you’re 65 plus, you should make sure you’re getting an especially designated flu shot that has a little bit better potency to provide extra protection. The flu shot usually becomes available sometime in September and the flu vaccine season really will run through February, sometimes later into the winter. Oftentimes it’s okay to wait I would say into October or November because we expect peak flu season to come December and after, and there may be a little bit of protection that wanes over time if you get it first thing in September.”

Patients who have seen a loved one experience the pain and rash of shingles often request this vaccine to avoid a similar encounter.

“The shingles vaccine can help prevent shingles, but what it’s actually really good at is decreasing the risk for what we call post-herpetic neuralgia — or the pain that comes after getting shingles.”

Give Episode 23 of the Healthy Matters Podcast a shot. Talking with Dr. Hust definitely boosted my knowledge about immunizations!