Hallberg's Picture of Health

Adults behind on routine vaccines may want to wait to catch up

You can't get a COVID-19 vaccine within two weeks of another shot

A man uses a needle to administer a vaccine.
Pharmacy intern Joseph Ahenkorah administers a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to Cari Giroir, a licensed practical nurse, at the Gardens of Episcopal Homes in St. Paul in December 2020.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News 2020

With patients putting off wellness visits, many are behind on routine vaccinations for pneumonia, shingles and tetanus. It’s important to catch up, said Dr. Jon Hallberg, but those eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine may want to wait.

You can’t get one within two weeks of getting another kind of vaccine. And with the COVID-19 vaccine supply limited and somewhat unpredictable, it could be difficult to space out appointments properly.

“We’re getting some reports of people getting really upset that they are receiving an immunization, they win the lottery, so to speak, and get notified that they can get a COVID-19 vaccine, they show up to receive it and then they’re told they can’t get it because they had one of these other shots within two weeks of that,” Hallberg said. “So we really need to do a better job of telling people that this could happen.”

Hallberg, who is medical director of the University of Minnesota Physicians Mill City Clinic, said it isn’t dangerous to get the vaccines close together, but doctors don’t yet know if it will affect the efficacy of either vaccine.

Hallberg spoke with MPR News host Tom Crann. Click play on the audio player above to hear their conversation.