Can a Flu Shot Protect You From Severe COVID-19 Illness?

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Woman getting flu vaccine
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The good old-fashioned flu shot might be powerful enough to keep some folks from becoming severely ill if they contract COVID-19, according to new research.

A close look at data on tens of thousands of patients from around the world “strongly suggests” that getting a flu shot reduces the risk of some negative outcomes associated with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. These outcomes include:

  • Stroke
  • Sepsis
  • Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT (a type of blood clot)

In some cases, the protective effect was large. For example, people who did not receive the flu vaccine were up to 58% more likely to end up in the emergency department, and also up to 58% more likely to suffer a stroke.

Overall, people who were vaccinated against the flu but later contracted COVID-19 were less likely to visit the emergency department or to be admitted to the intensive care unit.

However, the research also found that the risk of death from COVID-19 was not reduced for those who had a flu vaccination.

The new findings were presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases — which, in a sign of the times, was conducted online this year.

The researchers noted that the difficulty of vaccinating people around the world with the COVID-19 vaccines suggests that more widely available flu vaccines could play a key role in restricting the spread of COVID-19.

In a press release, Susan Taghioff, an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Miami, says:

“Influenza vaccination may even benefit individuals hesitant to receive a COVID-19 vaccine due to the newness of the technology. Despite this, the influenza vaccine is by no means a replacement for the COVID-19 vaccine, and we advocate for everyone to receive their COVID-19 vaccine if able to.”

For more on the coronavirus and COVID-19, check out “These Are Now the Top 5 Symptoms of ‘Breakthrough’ COVID-19.”

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