Though the flu vaccine will not protect you from getting infected with Covid-19, it can help prevent other diseases that can weaken your lungs and make you more vulnerable to the virus, health experts have said.
With flu season expected to set in around September, doctors ramp up awareness efforts, explaining that the vaccine against influenza can support one’s body in fighting respiratory illnesses that often come with symptoms similar to Covid-19.
Dr Ayesha Khalid, family medicine consultant at Burjeel Medical Centre in Abu Dhabi, said: “The flu vaccine doesn’t offer protection against Covid-19, however, some studies suggest that the vaccine would help in reducing the severity of the virus. That is, if a person vaccinated against flu contracts Covid-19, he is likely to have mild symptoms.
Covid-19 and influenza are similar illnesses, she said. “So, getting a flu vaccine would protect one against the disease and would reduce the burden on the healthcare system, which is already struggling with Covid-19. People who are vaccinated are unlikely to fall sick due to influenza.”
Dr Bobomurod Keldiyorov, family medicine specialist at Canadian Specialist Hospital Dubai, said that a combination of both the common flu virus and Covid-19 – or one followed by the other – may mean bad news for a patient’s health and his overall ability to recover.
“Little information is available on the severity of Covid-19 and other viral co-infections. But a recent report from China suggests that influenza and Covid-19 co-infections may result in more severe disease in high-risk patients and complicate the diagnosis,” Dr Keldiyorov said.
“Both seasonal influenza and Covid-19 can cause respiratory problems and even pneumonia – and getting both at the same time can be a deadly combination.”
Fighting flu, Covid-19
When the flu season strikes this year, medics will have to handle influenza infections along with Covid-19 and this could result in a complicated scenario at hospitals.
Dr Keldiyorov explained that since flu and Covid-19 share many common symptoms, doctors and nurses will have to ensure that flu and Covid patients won’t be mingling with each other.
Everyone should avoid getting the flu, especially in the time of the pandemic, they stressed.
Dr Salvin George, internal medicine specialist at Medcare Hospital, Al Safa, said “getting the flu shot will help the general public reduce cold and flu symptoms which often mimic Covid symptoms”.
“We routinely encourage vulnerable groups such as elderly patients above age 65 to get yearly influenza vaccines and a single dose of pneumococcal vaccine. In young patients, those who suffer from recurrent flu symptoms should also get yearly vaccination.”