Can a flu shot offer some COVID-19 protection?

2020 09 11 17 23 5264 Vaccine Injection 400

A recent study indicates the flu shot may offer some protection against COVID-19. Flu shot recipients were less likely to test positive for COVID-19, and those who did get the virus had fewer complications.

Researchers from the University of Michigan scoured the medical records of 27,201 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 between March and mid-July of 2020. They published their findings on February 22 in the American Journal of Infection Control.

The odds of testing positive for the virus were reduced by 24% in patients who received an influenza vaccine compared to those who did not get a vaccine, the researchers found. Similarly, flu shot patients were 58% less likely to require hospitalization and 45% less likely to require mechanical ventilation.

The underlying mechanisms are not yet clear, and patients who receive the flu vaccine may also be more likely to socially distance and follow guidelines, the authors noted. However, they still recommended that people receive their flu shot to ease the burden associated with COVID-19.

"It's powerful to give providers another tool to encourage their patients to take advantage of available, effective, safe immunizations. ... Instead of a concerning connection between COVID-19 and the flu shot, our publication provides more confidence that getting your flu shot is associated with staying out of the hospital for COVID-19," stated co-first author Dr. Carmel Ashur, an assistant professor of internal medicine and a hospitalist at Michigan Medicine, in a press release.

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