This Other Vaccine Could Already Be Protecting You From COVID, Study Says

New research has good news for those up-to-date on this important vaccination.

The coronavirus vaccine is being distributed across the U.S., but many Americans have found that actually securing an appointment to get the shot isn't so easy. And many people are not even eligible to get the vaccine yet, as most states have prioritized vaccination appointments for healthcare workers, those over the age of 65, and people with underlying conditions. As it turns out, however, new research has found that a prior vaccine may already be protecting you from COVID. Read on to find out if you're up-to-date on this important vaccination, and for more on the COVID vaccine, The CDC Says These 3 Side Effects Mean Your Vaccine Is Working.

The flu vaccine could make you less likely to get COVID.

Vials of influenza vaccine. ottles with a syringe on black table and stainless steel background.
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A study published Feb. 22 in the American Journal of Infection Control used data from more than 27,000 people tested for COVID between Feb. 27 and July 15 in the Michigan Medicine healthcare system. Out of that group, researchers reported that only 47.8 percent had gotten the flu vaccine in the last year (between Aug. 1 and July 15), while 52 percent had not. Gathering the number of positive cases from the two groups, researchers found that the odds of testing positive for COVID were reduced by 24 percent for patients who had been vaccinated against the flu compared to those who hadn't been. And for more things that could be protecting you, If You Have This in Your Blood, You May Be Safe From Severe COVID.

It may also make you less likely to be hospitalized if you do get COVID.

Portrait of male patient in early 40s looking away from camera while lying in hospital bed wearing protective face mask and recovering from coronavirus.
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If you end up contracting the virus, the researchers also found that those who had gotten the flu vaccine were less likely to be hospitalized for COVID. Compared to those who didn't get the flu vaccine, the odds of a flu-vaccinated COVID patient requiring hospitalization were reduced by 42 percent. According to the study, if hospitalized, you are also less likely to need mechanical ventilation and more likely to have a shorter stay if you have gotten the flu vaccine. The researchers concluded that "influenza vaccination is associated with decreased positive COVID-19 testing and improved clinical outcomes." And for more news on severe coronavirus, If You've Had This Common Illness, You're More Likely to Die From COVID.

Researchers say officials should be promoting the flu vaccine while COVID vaccine supply is limited.

Sign in neighborhood pharmacy advertising "Flu Shots" vaccinations
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Only 13.4 percent of Americans have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine so far, according to data from NPR. In the meantime, many people are still vulnerable to severe illness from COVID while vaccine availability estimates for the general population get pushed further back. That's why the researchers say the flu vaccine should be encouraged for those not yet eligible for the COVID vaccine, as it not only appears to lessen the likelihood of getting the virus but also the the likelihood of severe COVID.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 48.4 percent of adults 18 years and older got the flu shot during the 2019 to 2020 season, emphasizing the need for further promotion and coverage. "Until the COVID-19 vaccine becomes widely available, the influenza vaccine should be promoted to reduce the burden of disease during this pandemic," the researchers stated in their study. And for more up-to-date information, sign up for our daily newsletter.

You shouldn't get the flu vaccine too close to your COVID vaccine, however.

Woman getting COVID vaccine
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If you're about to get your coronavirus vaccine, don't go running to get a flu shot for extra protection. According to the CDC, you shouldn't get another vaccine within two weeks of your COVID vaccine, and that includes the flu vaccine. The agency says a "lack of data on the safety and efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines administered simultaneously with other vaccines" is the reason they have put this guidance in place. You need to wait at least 14 days after either vaccine to get the other. And for more vaccine guidance, The CDC Is Warning You Not to Do This Right Before You Get Vaccinated.

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