Flu shot lessens risk for COVID symptoms in kids

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Children who receive a seasonal flu shot are less likely to suffer symptoms from a COVID-19 infection, according to new research.

The finding comes from a review of more than 900 children diagnosed with COVID-19 in 2020.

“It is known that the growth of one virus can be inhibited by a previous viral infection,” says Anjali Patwardhan, professor of pediatric rheumatology and child health at the University of Missouri. “This phenomenon is called virus interference, and it can occur even when the first virus invader is an inactivated virus, such as the case with the flu vaccine.”

For the new study, published in the journal Cureus, Patwardhan reviewed records from 905 pediatric patients diagnosed with COVID-19 between February and August 2020 to determine each patient’s influenza vaccination history.

She discovered the COVID-19 positive children who received the influenza vaccine in the current flu season had lower odds of experiencing symptoms, respiratory problems, or severe disease. She also found that children with COVID-19 who received the pneumococcal vaccine also had lower odds of experiencing symptomatic disease.

Research on the pediatric population is critical because children play a significant role in influencing viral transmission,” Patwardhan says. “Understanding the relationship and co-existence of other viruses alongside COVID-19 and knowing the vaccination status of the pediatric patient may help in deploying the right strategies to get the best outcomes.”

Patwardhan says it will be important to explore the connection between vaccinations and COVID-19 symptoms in a larger geographical-multiracial study.

“Based on these findings, we hypothesize that the higher incidence of COVID-19 in minority populations may also reflect their low vaccination rate apart from other health inequalities,” Patwardhan says.

The authors declare they have received no financial support for the study and report no conflicts of interest.

Source: University of Missouri