Flu Vaccination Assists In Fighting COVID-19
At a Glance
Early in the pandemic, it was believed that flu shots helped protect against COVID-19. That belief was based on general scientific knowledge, but there was little demonstrative, supportive evidence until recently. In early August, 2021, a peer-reviewed publication to the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases was released containing results of a recent large-scale study out of the Netherlands on this topic. The main conclusions of the study were that the flu vaccine helps prevent against COVID-19-related deaths and some of more significant symptoms of the disease.
The study was begun by screening de-identified health records of more than 70 million people worldwide and correcting for factors such as age, gender, ethnicity, and pre-existing health conditions. Two groups of 37,377 people were eventually studied in more depth. One of the groups received their flu shot between 2 weeks and 6 months before being diagnosed with COVID-19, and the other group had COVID-19 but had not received a flu shot. The group who had received their flu shot were:
- 20% less likely to be admitted to the ICU;
- Almost 60% less likely to visit the Emergency Room;
- 45% less likely to develop sepsis;
- 58% less likely to have a stroke, and
- 40% less likely to develop deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Researchers are not sure how the flu vaccine protects against these known COVID-19 effects, but many theorize that it boosts the innate immune system, including general defenses that are not tailored to a specific illness. More research is needed in this area. In the US, this has implications for everyone, but particularly children under 12 years old who are not yet able to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.
The flu shot is not a replacement for a COVID-19 vaccine, and it is recommended that people receive both the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine.
Learn more about the flu shot from the Centers for Disease Control.