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To be clear, the flu shot can’t protect you from COVID-19. But just because it can’t give you the antibodies you need to fight the coronavirus, health officials and experts are urging people to get the flu vaccine especially this year as they fear we might have both influenza and are also exposed to influenza coronavirus.
In addition, a preliminary (not yet peer-reviewed) observational study was published in July suggesting that vaccination against the flu could reduce the risk of death from COVID-19. The researchers studied 92,664 COVID-19 patients in Brazil and looked at the results in patients who received a flu shot in 2020 and those who didn’t (Brazil’s biggest flu season is April to July). The results showed that those who had a flu shot and contracted COVID-19 were 17% less likely to die from coronavirus complications.
Again, we’re not saying that getting a flu shot will protect you from getting the coronavirus or developing serious complications from COVID-19. However, since we don’t have a coronavirus vaccine yet, researchers are exploring all possible ways to slow the spread of the virus and prevent infected people from dying. A big part of it is keeping us healthy so another virus – like– does not weaken ours .
The CDC advises the public to start the flu vaccination now, saying the best time to do this is in September or October. There are many things to consider when it comes to the flu vaccine and COVID-19. In order to answer all of your questions, I asked two experts to weigh up.
Can the flu shot protect you from COVID-19?
Simply put, the answer is no. The study from Brazil was an observational study that analyzed data on how the flu vaccine might affect COVID-19 outcomes, rather than a clinical study to test how effective the flu vaccine would be against the coronavirus. And while the authors found that flu vaccination correlated with fewer deaths from COVID-19, they acknowledge that there are many variables that will affect the patient’s outcome, including their genes and health prior to contracting the virus.
When asked for her opinion on the study, infectious disease expert Dr. Sandra Kesh: “It’s a bit early to draw any conclusions from such a study. One of the things we always theorize about in the infectious disease and immune system is that by getting a vaccine you activate the immune system that might help with other infections, but it’s all theoretical. ”
The concept she is referring to is known as viewer immunity, and she notes that it might explain the study’s results. “I think it’s unclear how this compares to other factors [in this study]”, she says.” Are people who get the flu vaccine generally just more cautious or in better health in general? Is the lower death rate itself from the flu vaccine itself or from other factors occurring in this population? It will be very interesting to see what happens when they actually publish this in a peer-reviewed publication. “
3 reasons you should still get the flu shot this year
Despite the lack of evidence that the flu shot can protect you from the coronavirus, the authors of the Brazil study and other medical experts agree that getting the flu vaccine is important for the public. This is especially true for people who are at high risk of severe COVID-19 cases, e.g. B. in patients with persistent health problems.
While we don’t know all about how the flu vaccine could affect COVID-19 results, read on for why it’s important to get the flu vaccine this year.
1. To avoid getting flu and COVID-19 at the same time (yes, you can)
“These viruses are two completely different types. So if you get vaccinated against one, you are not protected from the other,” says Dr. Daren Wu, Chief Physician of the Open Door Family Medical Center. “What you definitely don’t want is the one-two punch fromwhich is quite possible. “
If there was anything worse than being sick once, it would get sick with two potentially serious diseases at the same time.
“You don’t want to get the flu and COVID at the same time,” agrees Dr. Kesh too. “This is a situation that we really need to prevent. It would be potentially catastrophic in an older population, people who are co-infected will have a really hard time. And even with younger adults, one of those infectious diseases really knocks out you, but the two of them together would be very worrying. “
In addition, Dr. Wu that getting the flu shot is important because illness can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to other infections. “We think about COVID-19, but the flu lowers your immune system and makes you more prone to all kinds of secondary infections, including bacterial infections and other viruses like COVID-19,” he says.
2. Flu and COVID-19 symptoms can look similar
Flu and COVID-19 have a lotwhich can be very confusing when you start getting sick. But when you get the flu vaccine, you can feel more confident that it isn’t the flu – or at least that you don’t have the flu on top of another infection.
“Aside from the loss of smell and taste, the symptoms of COVID-19 and the flu almost entirely overlap. And they will test you of course, but we know the tests are not perfect and much of it will be a clinical diagnosis. So you can find out what is causing your symptoms, “says Dr. Kesh.
3. Lowering the infection rates
The reality is that we are facing a global pandemic that will not end soon and we must prepare for the outbreak of yet another infectious disease that can also be life-threatening. But the good news is what you’re doing to prevent COVID-19 (likeand ) can also help prevent the flu, making these safety measures doubly important in the months ahead.
“In my opinion [people need] To remind yourself that both really spread the same (in close contact or droplet spreading) and aerosol transmission is likely a factor in COVID-19, but we don’t yet know how much of a factor is, “says Dr. Kesh.” Mask usage and social distancing are never 100%. In the cold season when people will be more indoors, there are many more ways to spread against flu and COVID-19. That gives you another reason to protect yourself. “
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified health care provider with any questions about an illness or health goals.