COVID-19 + Influenza: What We Know & Don’t Know

What We Know

The medical community has known for a long time that some viral infections reduce your ability to fight off future ones.

A good example of this is the measles virus. The first study that documented the immunosuppression caused by measles infections goes back to 1984. More recently, in 2019 Harvard researchers discovered that children’s overall antibodies dropped by 40% following a measles infection. And that same year, another group studying Dutch children, found that measles actually damaged antibody-producing B-cells.

The discovery that we are in-fact likely reducing our antibody producing B-cells, suggests that our ability to rebound from a virus may become more difficult with each infection and/or age. So it’s no surprise that many people experience a winter when they may feel run down, seemingly stumbling from one cold to another, and never fully recovering until summer brings a welcomed respite.

What About People Who Get Immunizations?

With all the attention on Coronavirus (COVID-19), everyday citizens are clinging to the promise of immunity granting antibodies. Meanwhile the medical community is eagerly trying to validate and determine the potential of an antibody-producing vaccine on reducing overall spread.

Currently, it’s harder to find reliable data to support the notion of a broad and non-specific antibody impact from different vaccines on Coronavirus. But with global attention, well-funded studies and experts weighing in daily, the quest for meaningful biological data will soon be available.

We’ve Been Successful Before

After exhaustive research, trials and documentation, vaccines against tuberculosis, smallpox and the live measles vaccine suggest an improvement in overall survival more than can be accounted for by the reduction of their respective target diseases.

In fact, the introduction of MMR Vaccine (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella) in one small African country reduced overall deaths by 70%, even though all three diseases did not contribute more than 15% to childhood mortality.

During the US measles outbreak of 2019, it became apparent that children who had received influenza vaccine were less likely to get measles.

Where We Are Today

Early in to Coronavirus, data emerged rapidly that influenza vaccine reduced the risks of serious COVID-19. While the associations were weak, there seemed to be some effect. By June, a clinical trial in healthcare workers showed that an MMR vaccine was protective against COVID-19 and several studies are under way to confirm that TB vaccine called BCG can also reduce COVID-19.

Now, several months into this global pandemic, we are coming to terms with the reality that there are different susceptibilities to COVID-19, for reasons that remain unclear.

Some doctors have hypothesized that getting immunity to Influenza could partially protect against COVID-19 produce a milder form of the disease. This idea is supported by the fact that there are some structural similarities between influenza and Coronaviruses. These similarities could explain some cross-reactivity between a Influenza antibody and one against Coronavirus.

While the research continues to be early we can with confidence see that the Coronavirus has the potential to cause profound immune suppression that could lasts for months.

Should You Get Your Flu Shot? Yep.

While there is still considerable uncertainty as to whether there will be any favorable COVID-fighting benefits from the proven seasonal influenza shot, it is well documented that getting a flu shot will reduce the odds of catching the flu, which can reduce the immunosupression that flu can cause. 

By getting an annual Flu Shot, your chances of compromising your immune system go down. A healthier immune system is a great way to reduce complications from COVID-19 if you unfortunately catch it. 

Delta Dire Care is currently offering Flu Shots at both our Vancouver and Battle Ground locations.  They are FREE to Delta Direct Care members or $25 for non-members.  Call (360) 999- 5138 to schedule your shot – or ENROLL TODAY and we can see you within 24-hrs!

 

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