There are still numerous countries that do not have COVID-19 vaccines, or vaksin coronavirus as of April 2021. Prior to the development of COVID-19 vaccinations, some evidence suggested that an influenza vaccine could induce nonspecific immune responses that reduce the probability of COVID-19 infection or the severity of COVID-19 disease following infection. However, several studies and scientific evidence showed that the influenza vaccines are not able to prevent COVID-19, but they will lower the burden of flu infections, hospitalizations, and fatalities on the health-care system and save valuable medical resources for COVID-19 care.
Every year, the influenza vaccine avoids millions of illnesses and doctor visits which are related to the flu. For example, the influenza vaccine is expected to have averted 7.5 million influenza illnesses, 3.7 million influenza-related medical visits, 105,000 influenza-related hospitalizations, and upto 6,300 influenza-related deaths in the years from 2019 to 2020. Medical reports also state that the influenza vaccine has been demonstrated to reduce the likelihood of having to go to the doctor with flu by 40% to 60% during seasons.
During the flu seasons, the influenza vaccines have reduced children’s risk of flu-related paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) admission by 74%. It also lowered the risk of flu-related hospitalizations among the adults by around 40% on average. In recent years, the elderly influenza vaccination has proved to lower the chance of being admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) with flu up to 82%.
Influenza vaccination has been reported to have a decreased risk of various cardiac events in individuals with a heart disease, particularly in those who have had a cardiac event in the previous year. Besides that, it also helps those with chronic lung disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), to avoid hospitalisation and deterioration of their illness. The other common health issues such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension and dyslipidemia are shown to be beneficial as well.
Influenza vaccination reduces the incidence of flu-related acute respiratory illness in pregnant women by up to 50%. During influenza seasons, the flu vaccination also showed to reduce a pregnant woman’s risk of being hospitalised due to influenza virus infection. Furthermore, a number of studies also found that, other than protecting pregnant women, the influenza vaccine administered during pregnancy has the ability to protect the infant from flu for several months after delivery. This is very convenient as he or she may not mature enough to be vaccinated right after birth.
As the influenza viruses mutate and change from year to year, influenza vaccines must be updated on an annual basis to contain the viruses that are most likely to circulate in the future season. Following the selection of the viruses for the new formulation, the private firms will develop, test, release, and distribute the latest version of influenza vaccines. Due to this characteristic and speciality of the influenza viruses, the administration of influenza vaccines are recommended on yearly basis.
Even though the influenza vaccine does not provide protection against the coronavirus or COVID-19, it is still proven that it has provided a great level of protection and benefits against other flu-like symptoms, especially the influenza virus. This is particularly important for the time being as the COVID-19 patient may present with similar signs and symptoms which can be quite hard to differentiate sometimes. By receiving the influenza vaccines, it can help the health care workers and doctors to rule out the other forms of illness such as influenza infections, and reserve the valuable medical resources for the priority. With these measures, the mortality rate will surely be reduced, instead a better outcome can be achieved and sustained.