A Combined COVID-19 and Flu Shot Could Be Closer Than You Think

The appeal of one shot that does the work of two is easy to see

Doctor with needle
Flu season could be a little easier before too long.
Getty Images

For the last few years, I’ve taken advantage of the fact that I can now get my annual flu shot and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time. There are a few good reasons for this — including reducing time in doctor’s offices and pharmacies and in getting side effects (if any are present) out of the way faster. Beginning in 2023, some facilities began offering these two shots in conjunction with RSV vaccines.

Now, it sounds like we’re not far away from the COVID-19 and flu shots becoming the COVID-19 and flu shot — as in, yes, one shot that would cover both. Earlier this month, Moderna announced encouraging trial results for mRNA-1083, a vaccine that would bolster the body’s defenses against both viruses.

“Moderna is the only company with a positive Phase 3 flu and COVID combination vaccine,” said the company’s CEO, Stéphane Bancel, in a statement. “Building on the momentum of positive Phase 3 data across our respiratory portfolio, we continue to address significant unmet medical needs and advance public health.”

As Nature‘s Freda Kreier pointed out in a recent article on the announcement, the implications here go beyond simply reducting the impact of COVID-19 and seasonal flu. This also means that the work put into developing mRNA vaccines since the beginning of the pandemic may have opened the door to other applications as well. Kreier noted that this particular vaccine has had a much faster road to this point that previous efforts to create a vaccine for multiple viruses.

It’s not the only sign that mRNA vaccines could play a big role in medicine going forwards. Earlier this year, scientists announced that an mRNA vaccine showed promise in addressing cancer and that a separate one had shown promise in fighting multiple strains of the same virus.

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