How the Flu Vaccine Can Help with Severe Symptoms of COVID-19

How the Flu Vaccine Can Help with Severe Symptoms of COVID-19

by Angelique Harris

With the pandemic still trekking on with the new circulating Delta variant, it is more important than ever the ensure you and your family’s safety.  Recent studies have found promise that the flu vaccine may provide protection against severe symptoms of COVID-19. Both viruses have in the past lead to a multitude of hospitalization requirements for American’s and both have the potential to be fatal.

The European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Disease analyzed patient data, noting the correlation of a reduced risk of stroke, sepsis, and deep vein thrombosis in COVID-infected patients who had received their flu vaccine. According to the study, the non-vaccinated individuals had a higher risk of 20% to be more likely to be admitted into the ICU. They also had a 45% higher chance of developing sepsis and were 58% more likely to suffer from a stroke.1 Additionally, patient’s vaccinated against the flu had a 25% lower chance of testing positive for COVID-19.2

The mechanism behind this protection provided from the flu vaccine is uncertain. Some researchers believe that it boosts the body’s natural immune system. It is also noted that some vaccines produce an adaptive immune response that can be activated in the presence of another foreign body, an example being how some tuberculosis vaccines has some efficacy against yellow fever and malaria.2

Children under the age of 13 may also be able to receive some protection against COVID-19 with the seasonal flu vaccine. The University of Missouri School of Medicine has found data to support children that received the flu shot are less likely to experience symptoms from COVID. Researchers reviewed more than 900 children in 2020. Professor, Anjali Patwardhan MD explains the concept of viral interference to which causes the cells within our body to become resistant to a second infection after first experiencing another. She believes this to be the correlated mechanism for the increased protection. Results from the study show that the children previously vaccinated for the flu and tested positive for COVID-19, were less likely to experience symptomatic disease. Dr. Patwardhan notes that research still needs to be conducted and its importance as children play a role influencing viral transmission.3

While the flu vaccine is not a replacement for the vaccines approved for COVID-19, it may serve importance in areas where COVID vaccination rates are struggling, or other countries not expected to receive shipments of the vaccine until 2023. These statistics may also provide some comfort to those hesitant to receive the COVID vaccines.1 With both viruses sharing similar seasonal outbreaks, it is important to ensure the highest protection.

Sources:

  1. Antrim, Aislinn. Study Finds Flu Shots Protect Against Some Severe COVID-19 Symptoms [Internet]. Pharmacy Times; 2021 July 15. [Cited 08/12/2021]. Available from: https://www.pharmacytimes.com/view/study-finds-flu-shots-protect-against-some-severe-covid-19-symptoms
  2. Jeremias, Skylar. Flu Vaccine May Protect Against COVID-19 Infection [Internet]. AMJC; 2021 Feb 24. [Cited 08/12/2021]. Available from: https://www.ajmc.com/view/flu-vaccine-may-protect-against-covid-19-infection
  3. Study Shows Flu Vaccine Lessens COVID-19 Symptoms in Children [Internet]. University of Missouri School of Medicine; 2021 Feb 4. [cited 08/12/2021]. Available from: https://medicine.missouri.edu/news/study-shows-flu-vaccine-lessens-covid-19-symptoms-children
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