UF Research: Flu vaccine could boost protection from COVID-19 symptoms

It’s flu season and new research from the University of Florida reports those who get a flu shot may be less likely to develop severe symptoms if they contract COVID-19.

UF researchers studied hospital data from more than two-thousand patients who tested positive for COVID-19.

While the results were controlled to account for age, race, gender, pre-existing conditions, and comorbidities, they found that those coronavirus patients without a flu shot were more likely to be hospitalized or admitted to the ICU.

“Certainly promising that there may be some level of protection with a flu shot,” UF researcher Dr. Nick Dorsey said.

The doctors admit this is still their hypothesis, but they point to the biology of what happens inside the body when getting a flu shot.

“You have activated immunity when you get the flu shot, but it may actually stimulate what we call innate immunity,” UF researcher Dr. Arch Mainous said. “There’s another sort of immunity that goes on too.”

This study looked at patients who received the flu shot last year.

With more COVID-19 cases being reported each day, they’re encouraging people to get this year’s flu shot now to help boost their protection while waiting for the COVID vaccine.

“If there is that COVID protection, we have something that has been proven safe, effective, and is already nationally distributed,” Dorsey said. “So the mechanism for getting that to people is already there.

Researchers said if more people get the flu shot, it could decrease the number of deaths not only from the flu, but help flatten the curve in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic as well.