An interesting retrospective cohort study by Wilcox and others published in the BMJ Open Respiratory Research Journals suggested that influenza vaccination may offer some protection against COVID-19 severity.
The study used routinely collected health records from patients registered to a general practitioner practice in southwest England with electronic care and health information and analytics.
The cohort included 6921 people with COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic from 1st January to 31st July 2020.
Data on influenza vaccination, hospitalisation and all-cause mortality were ascertained through linked clinical and demographic records.
They applied propensity score methods to quantify the association between influenza vaccine status and COVID-19 outcomes.
2613, 38% of participants received an influenza vaccination between 1st January 2019 and a COVID-19 diagnosis.
They found that receipt of influenza vaccine was associated with significantly lower odds of hospitalisation or all-cause mortality and 24% reduced odds of all-cause mortality.
They concluded influenza vaccination was associated with a 15-24% lower odds of severe COVID-19 outcomes.
They suggested that the current United Kingdom influenza vaccination programme needed urgent expansion as an integral component of the ongoing response plan to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The London General Practice has availability of influenza vaccination and is happy to offer to anyone who was not vaccinated last year in order to possibly help prevent serious COVID-19 infection.
Dr Paul Ettlinger
BM, DRCOG, FRCGP, FRIPH, DOccMed