Does a flu shot protect against COVID-19?
If people received a flu shot in the last flu season, it appears to be associated with a significantly reduced risk of developing COVID-19. In addition, there seem to be fewer complications in the case of illness caused by COVID-19 if the affected person had previously received a flu vaccination.
Getting a flu shot last flu season has been linked to a lower chance of testing positive for COVID-19 infection, according to research from the University of Michigan. The study was published in the English-language journal “American Journal of Infection Control”.
Influence of the flu vaccination on the COVID-19 case numbers?
For the study, the researchers checked the medical records of more than 27,000 people who were tested for COVID-19 infection between March and mid-July 2020. Of the nearly 13,000 who got a flu shot the previous year, four percent tested positive for COVID-19.
Of the 14,000 who hadn’t received a flu shot, however, almost five percent tested positive for COVID-19. The association remained significant even after checking for other variables such as ethnicity, race, gender, age, BMI, smoking status and many comorbidities, reports study author Dr. Marion Hofmann Bowman. The doctor therefore continues to recommend a flu vaccination, even after the flu season comes to an end.
Fewer hospital stays thanks to flu vaccination
People who had received a flu vaccination also had to be admitted to hospital significantly less often, although no significant difference in mortality between the two groups was found, the researchers report. Neither of the participants tested positive for both infections at the same time, adds Dr. Bowman added.
The underlying mechanism behind the connection is not yet clear, explains the expert. “It is possible that people who get their flu shot will also be people who are more social distancing and following CDC guidelines. But it is also plausible that there could be a direct biological effect of the flu vaccination on the immune system, which is relevant for fighting the SARS-CoV-2 virus, ”said the doctor.
Prospective longitudinal studies investigating the effect of the flu vaccine on respiratory disease are underway, including the Household Influenza Vaccine Evaluation (HIVE) study by the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health.
Study aims to help fight vaccination fatigue
Months ago, Dr. Hofmann said she was concerned about the misinformation she kept seeing on the Internet that linked the flu vaccine with a COVID-19 infection. Prominent media outlets such as the Reuters news agency have already exposed this theory as misinformation and the new data from her team could also help combat vaccination fatigue, the expert hopes.
“Instead of a worrying link between COVID-19 and the flu vaccination, our publication gives more certainty that the flu vaccination is more likely to be linked to the absence of a COVID-19 infection,” explains the doctor in a press release from the University of Michigan.
Influenza vaccination protects against heart attacks
In addition, “there is solid evidence that the flu vaccination prevents heart attacks and hospitalization for heart failure, which is an additional reason to get vaccinated every flu season,” adds Dr. Anna Conlon from the University of Michigan, who was also involved in the preparation of the current study.
Safe vaccinations should be taken
It is beneficial to be able to provide vaccination providers with another argument to encourage people to take advantage of the available, effective and safe vaccinations, summarizes Dr. Conlon. (as)
Author and source information
This text complies with the requirements of specialist medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.
- University of Michigan: Flu Shot Associated With Fewer, Less Severe COVID Cases (veröffentlicht 12.03.2021), University of Michigan
- Anna Conlon, Carmel Ashur, Laraine Washer, Kim A. Eagle, Marion A. Hofmann Bowman: Impact of the influenza vaccine on COVID-19 infection rates and severity, in American Journal of Infection Control (veröffentlicht 22.02.2021), American Journal of Infection Control
This article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.
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