Kristen Nichols, PharmD, and senior content management consultant for clinical effectiveness at Wolters Kluwer joins Drug Topics® to discuss the benefits of the coadministration of COVID-19 and flu vaccines in part 1 of this interview.

October 29, 2021


Drug Topics®: I am joined by Kristen Nichols PharmD and board-certified pharmacotherapy specialist. She is also a board-certified pediatric pharmacy specialists and infectious diseases pharmacist. Kristin is the Senior Content Management Consultant for clinical effectiveness at Wolters Kluwer. Thank you for joining me today.

Kristen Nichols, PharmD: Thanks for having me.

Drug Topics®: I'd like to start getting right into our topic, but first, can you tell me a little bit about your background?

Kristen Nichols, PharmD: Yeah, so after I completed my PharmD, I did two years of residency training, ultimately specializing in pediatric pharmacy. And then I took a position as a faculty member at Baylor University, where I eventually was awarded tenure. And during that time, I practice primarily at Riley Hospital for Children in pediatric infectious diseases, but also for a time and Infectious Diseases at Franciscan health.

I also taught in the immunizations course and was trained as a trainer for the APHA pharmacy-based immunization certificate program. And then, about two years ago, I left my full-time employment at Butler to join the Wolters Kluwer team, where I came on board as a member of the pediatric Lexicomp team within Wolters Kluwer health.

Drug Topics®: Wow, that's awesome. Can you tell me a little bit about currently how there's a lot of discussion about the coadministration of the COVID and flu vaccine? There is a lot of buzz going around about that. Can you tell our audience a little bit about what health care providers should know regarding this?

Kristen Nichols, PharmD: Absolutely. So, the COA administration of COVID vaccine with other vaccines is acceptable. There's no recommendation for anything specific with regard to timing so they can be administered at the same time. Now, there aren't specific studies yet those are underway. But based on the breadth of experience that we have with other vaccines that are not live vaccines, it is not expected that there'll be any interference with efficacy, or any increased risks or side effects or anything like that.

One thing or a couple things to know would be that if you are giving them at the same time, it's recommended to give them in different sites with which can both be within the deltoid muscle have the same arm, but it's recommended to give them at least one inch apart. For flu vaccines or for other vaccines that are associated with more local adverse reactions, it is recommended, if possible, to give them in two separate limbs.

An example of the those would be like our flu vaccine, the flu ad, or the high dose flu vaccine, like the flu zone, and those are both used in people 65 years and older. It's recommended to do those in two different lenses just because you can have some more of those local adverse reaction patients be getting both.

Yes, patients should be getting both, especially people who have not received any doses yet of the COVID-19 vaccine. Both viruses can certainly cause mild illness, but can also cause more severe illness, resulting in hospitalization. And so from a general pandemic management perspective, the last thing we need are a bunch of people hospitalized with the flu, right in the middle of our COVID-19 problems.

Drug Topics®: Right. That makes a lot of sense. Can you tell me a little bit about what your prediction would be for the vaccination rates for this flu season?

Nichols: You know, I wish I could predict that. I am not sure that I can. I certainly hope that people will choose to get vaccinated, recognizing the problems that can come with having influenza, viral illness during a pandemic with another viral illness. And all the in my opinion, it's changed for the better and that we don't have people go into work sick.

And well, hopefully, that there's much more understanding of not sharing germs at work and things like that. And so now that any sign of illness will be required to be tested and not go to work, hopefully people will see the benefits of getting the flu vaccine.

I am a little bit concerned that a lot of the misinformation and the anti-vaccination sentiments that we've seen with COVID-19 could potentially spillover to the flu vaccine but it's hard to tell honestly what will happen.