U.S. health officials have spent the last few months gearing up for what should be a tumultuous flu season, fearing what could be a “twindemic” situation where both massive rates of flu and COVID infections could sicken the population and lead to overcrowded hospitals of people suffering from both viruses. But now, according to new research that has not yet been peer-reviewed, getting a flu shot might also help inoculate folks who are vaccinated against developing COVID-19 symptoms.
The research suggests that a flu vaccine against influenza may also trigger the body “to produce broad infection-fighting molecules that combat the pandemic-causing virus,” Scientific American reports. Now, there was always no excuse not to get a flu shot, as it is beneficial to the vaccinated people and unvaccinated populations, but with the news that it could also help people who get COVID-19, it’s of extra importance this flu season.
The paper, although not yet peer-reviewed, echoes research from other studies that have been peer-reviewed — but still needs to be held to further, rigorous experiments making sure that the data is replicable.
But the researchers who discovered this trend who work at the Radboud Medical Center in the Netherlands found that employees who got the flu shot were 39 percent less likely to test positive for COVID-19 by June 1, 2020 — and were about one percentage point less likely to test positive than non-vaccinated counterparts.
While researchers think that the data could be correlated with other factors — like the fact that people who get flu shots are usually more likely to engage in other healthy behaviors like social distancing, etc., it could also prove that flu shots could help people get less sick from COVID and the flu.
Either way, the flu shot is an important part of being a responsible citizen, so go ahead and get one. Bare minimum, it will help you not get the flu, which is a nasty and potentially deadly virus on its own, twindemic be damned.