Moderna Is Developing a Combination COVID-19 and Flu Booster Shot

Key Takeaways

  • Two major pharmaceutical companies are working on combination COVID-19 booster and flu vaccines.
  • Both Novavax and Moderna announced the news last week.
  • Doctors say these types of shots make getting vaccinated more convenient.

Pharmaceutical company Moderna shared last week that it is working on a vaccine that will combine a COVID-19 booster dose with a seasonal flu shot.

The announcement was made during the company’s annual research and development day.

“Today we are announcing the first step in our novel respiratory vaccine program with the development of a single dose vaccine that combines a booster against COVID-19 and a booster against flu,” Stéphane Bancel, chief executive officer of Moderna said in a press release. “We believe this is just the beginning of a new age of information-based medicines.”

Details on the new vaccine are scarce, but the press release says that the combination vaccine candidate, known as mRNA-1073, combines Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine and flu vaccine candidate.

Person receiving a shot in the arm.

SDI Productions / Getty Images

Moderna also shared that its combination vaccine “encodes for the COVID-19 spike protein and the Flu [hemagglutinin] glycoproteins,” meaning it targets crucial proteins in both of the viruses.

But they’re not the only pharmaceutical company pursuing this type of shot.

Novavax Is Developing a Shot, Too

Vaccine company Novavax announced around the same time that it is also developing a combination flu and COVID-19 vaccine.

This vaccine, which just began phase 1/2 clinical trials, combines Novavax’s recombinant protein-based COVID-19 vaccine and NanoFlu vaccine candidates.“The combination of these two vaccines, which have individually delivered outstanding results with favorable safety and tolerability profiles, may lead to greater efficiencies for the healthcare system and achieve high levels of protection against COVID-19 and influenza with a single regimen,” Gregory M. Glenn, MD, president of research and development at Novavax, said in a press release.

The trial will analyze the safety and immune response of the combination vaccine in 640 healthy adults aged 50 to 70. Study participants will have either had COVID-19 in the past or been vaccinated against the virus at least eight weeks before they’re enrolled. Results are expected in the first half of 2022.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all Americans aged 12 and up be vaccinated against COVID-19. The CDC also recommends that all Americans over the age of six months get an annual flu vaccine if they can.

Whether COVID-19 booster shots are necessary for the general public is still being debated by the medical community. The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in mid-August that all Americans who received both doses of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines should get booster shots eight months after receiving their second dose.

However, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has not yet recommended booster shots for the majority of Americans.

What This Means For You

If you can, it’s recommended you get your annual flu shot this fall as flu season ramps up. You can get a free flu shot at pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens.

Combination Shots Aren’t New

The idea of a combination vaccine isn’t new—the Tdap and MMR vaccines are just a couple of examples, Amesh A. Adalja, MD, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, tells Verywell. But, he says, they are helpful to have.

“The more vaccines that can be packed into one shot, the better as it makes getting vaccinated and staying on a schedule convenient,” Adalja says. “Whether this is a vaccine everyone needs depends upon the data supporting the need for booster COVID vaccinations which has not been fully presented.”

Richard Watkins, MD, an infectious disease physician and professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, tells Verywell that a combined vaccine will be “convenient” for people who need it.

If booster vaccines are given the green light from the ACIP and clinical trial data goes well, Watkins says this combination vaccine will be good for most Americans to have available. However, he says, “if you have previously had a severe adverse reaction—anaphylaxis—to the flu or COVID-19 vaccine, I might not get the combination shot.”

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Who needs a flu vaccine and when.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Joint statement from HHS public health and medical experts on COVID-19 booster shots.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 vaccine booster shot.

By Korin Miller
Korin Miller is a health and lifestyle journalist who has been published in The Washington Post, Prevention, SELF, Women's Health, The Bump, and Yahoo, among other outlets.