Additional studies are necessary to establish a causal relationship between the flu shot and COVID-19 susceptibility and severity, researchers said, adding that "Until COVID-19 vaccine becomes widely available, the influenza vaccine should be promoted to reduce the burden of disease during the pandemic."
A study in the American Journal of Infection Control found people who received the flu vaccine had 24% lower odds of getting infected with COVID-19 compared to those who were not vaccinated. The findings, based on data from 27,201 people, showed flu-vaccinated patients who contracted COVID-19 also had shorter hospital stays and were less likely to need mechanical ventilation and require hospitalization.
eople who received a flu shot were 24 percent less likely to test positive for COVID-19 than those who did not, according to research published Feb. 22 in the American Journal of Infection Control.
Using patient charts from the Ann Arbor-based Michigan Medicine, researchers identified 27,201 people who tested positive for COVID-19 between Feb. 27 and July 15. Of those, 12,997 or about 48 percent had a flu shot during the prior influenza season. Among this group, 525 people contracted COVID-19, compared to 693 who did not get a flu shot. Overall, the odds of testing positive for the coronavirus were reduced by 24 percent in patients who got the flu shot versus those who didn't.
Of those who contracted COVID-19, patients who were vaccinated against the flu also had better clinical outcomes, the findings showed. They were less likely to require hospitalization for their COVID-19 illness, with an odds ratio of 0.58. They also had a lower chance of needing mechanical ventilation and had a shorter hospital stay.
Researchers did not identify significant differences in the need for intensive care or mortality between flu vaccinated patients and unvaccinated patients with COVID-19.
The apparent link between flu vaccination and potential protection against COVID-19 could be due to trained immunity, a process in which vaccinations activate an adaptive immune response of T-helper cells that may attack a similar antigen in the future.
With vaccines against COVID-19 not yet broadly available, there is interest in assessing the role of the influenza vaccine in COVID-19 susceptibility and severity.
The odds of testing positive for COVID-19 was reduced in patients who received an influenza vaccine compared to those who did not by 24%.
Vaccinated patients testing positive for COVID-19 were less likely to require hospitalization or mechanical ventilation and had a shorter hospital length of stay.
The influenza vaccine should be promoted to reduce the burden of COVID-19.
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