In the News: Flu Shots Can Help Fight Covid

Getting a flu shot may come with an unexpected benefit: protection against a severe coronavirus infection.

As worldwide covid-related deaths top 4 million, protecting yourself from the novel coronavirus as well as its variants will be important for years to come. Some experts believe combining flu shots and covid vaccines will help hundreds of thousands of people avoid severe or even fatal symptoms. In short, the fewer unvaccinated people there are, the lower the strain will be on hospitals throughout the year—especially during cold and flu season.

The connection between the flu shot and covid

According to a recent study published by the American Journal of Infection Control, patients who received the flu shot were found to have 24% lower odds of testing positive for COVID-19 than those who did not. Moreover, patients testing positive were less likely to experience severe symptoms, require hospitalization or mechanical ventilation and had a shorter hospital stay.

As the new, highly transmissible delta variant becomes the dominant strain across the United States, getting a flu vaccine and covid vaccine will provide the best protection from severe symptoms.

How do flu shots help fight covid?

Investigators now hypothesize that flu shots could result in trained immunity, which means a flu vaccine could create an adaptive immune response that would protect people from severe covid-related symptoms. This means that the flu vaccine might increase natural killer cell activity, a type of immune cell that has been shown to target cancer and cells infected by the viruses. The flu vaccine may also stimulate a person’s immune system to more effectively fight the covid virus.

Are vaccines safe?

With so much misinformation being disseminated across social media and the like, it can leave many questioning the safety of vaccines altogether. In the United States, there are safeguards required by law to help ensure the vaccines we receive are safe, including:

  • Clinical trials
    Vaccines must pass rigorous testing through laboratory and animal studies. If those results indicate the vaccine is safe, additional testing on people must be done before the vaccine can be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For those concerned about unknown long-term effects, in virtually all cases, vaccine side effects are seen within the first 2 months after rollout.
  • Safety monitoring
    Vaccines must also pass rigorous safety testing once they have been approved for public use. These systems include the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD), and the Clinical Immunization Assessment (CISA) project. Each of these complements the others to help scientists monitor the safety of vaccines and conduct vaccine safety research.

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?

According to Stuart C. Ray, MD, professor of Medicine and Oncology in the Division of Infectious Disease at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, “It seems compelling, even for skeptics, that unvaccinated people represent 99% of those now dying from COVID-19, when they represent less than 50% of the adult population in the USA.”

Many people are hesitant about getting the covid vaccine for several reasons. Chief among them is the speed with which it was created. Here are five reasons why we were able to create and get emergency use authorization for the available covid vaccines:

  1. Science
    Before the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, arrived and started causing COVID-19, there was years of research done on similar coronaviruses called SARS and MERS, meaning mature, safe technology already existed. The covid vaccine was built on the back of this research and development.
  2. Funding
    Unlike typical vaccine development, governments and funding bodies joined forces to remove financial obstacles for covid vaccine development and testing.
  3. Collaboration
    Scientists, doctors, ethics approval boards, manufacturers and regulatory agencies aligned efforts and priorities to expedite the development, testing and approval of the covid vaccine.
  4. Volunteers
    Tens of thousands of people volunteered for human clinical trials.
  5. Manufacturing
    Large-scale manufacturing occurred in tandem with human trials, to anticipate demand and expedite shipping once the vaccine proved safe and effective.

As the 2021-2022 cold and flu season approaches, it will be more important than ever to get the flu vaccine (in addition to the covid vaccine) as it can help lessen severe symptoms of not only the influenza virus, but the new coronavirus, COVID-19, as well. Oxford Urgent Care accepts walk-in appointments 7 days a week from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. to help alleviate cold or flu symptoms like persistent or severe fever, painful swallowing, persistent or severe cough or persistent or severe congestions or headaches.