COVID-19 death rates may be lower in communities where large proportions of elderly residents received flu vaccines, based on data from more than 2,000 counties around the United States. Researchers found that a 10% increase in vaccination coverage among people older than 65 was associated on average with a 28% decrease in the COVID-19 death rate in a given county.
It is possible that social, economic and health factors contributed to lower coronavirus mortality in counties where more seniors got flu vaccines, the researchers said. Their findings were based on data reported by counties, not by individuals.
Still, the researchers said, “The significant public health implications of this possibility point to an urgent need for studying the relationship between influenza vaccination and COVID-19 mortality at the individual level, to investigate both the epidemiology and any underlying biological mechanism.”
On Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said flu vaccination during the pandemic is very important to reduce the overall impact of respiratory illnesses on the population and ease burdens on the healthcare system.