vaccination (illustration)
vaccination (illustration)ISTOCK

A new international study has found that in addition to being able to prevent complications from the flu, the flu vaccine also helps to prevent serious illness and hospitalization in patients who have contracted the coronavirus, Israel Hayom reported.

This finding is of national importance, as in recent weeks senior doctors, and even the cabinet of national coronavirus experts, have repeatedly warned that the severe shortage of intensive care beds for coronavirus patients is exacerbating the increasing mortality rates of the fourth wave of the epidemic.

On Wednesday, after Sukkot, the four HMOs plan to continue efforts to vaccinate against influenza, in parallel with giving out the coronavirus vaccines. The HMOs have ordered about 2.5 million vaccine doses, and so far only about 90,000 of the ordered vaccines have been given. According to the Health Ministry guidelines, the vaccine can be obtained from the age of six months and up, with an emphasis on populations at risk: people aged 50 and over, patients with chronic diseases, children up to the age of 12 and health workers.

The study was conducted by four researchers from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and examined the information in about 75,000 digital medical files of patients from around the world, mainly from the US and also from the UK, Italy, Germany, Singapore and Israel. The study examined information on patients who had not been vaccinated against influenza at all, and those who had been vaccinated against influenza from six months to two weeks before being diagnosed with the coronavirus. The study examined the period before the start of the worldwide distribution of the coronavirus vaccines. Patients in the study were sampled according to categories of age, gender and medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity. The researchers examined the development of 15 serious coronavirus symptoms within 30, 60, and 120 days from the time patients were diagnosed.

According to the publication of the results of the study, a direct statistical relationship was found between the risk of developing severe coronavirus symptoms and non-vaccination against influenza. The study also found that those who were not vaccinated against the flu were 40% more likely to become hospitalized and require intensive care, and twice as likely because to develop stroke, venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism as a result of the coronavirus. The researchers concluded that there is a potential protective effect of influenza vaccines for those who become infected with the coronavirus, which could also benefit populations who do not have access to the coronavirus vaccines. In Israel, the people who cannot be vaccinated against the coronavirus are children below age of 12 and people who cannot be vaccinated at all due to various health problems.

Dr. Alex Guri, the Infectious Disease Adviser for the Pediatrics Division at Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot, said that "for the purpose of the study, the researchers gained access to a database of nearly 75,000 patients, from whom we built two sequences, namely research groups of about 38,000 people who contracted COVID. From that we constructed two groups. In one group, the patients were vaccinated against the flu within the six-month period before contracting COVID, and in the second follow-up, they were not vaccinated against the flu."

Dr. Guri noted that “the study showed that COVID patients who received the flu vaccine in the six months before their illness had fewer complications of sepsis, emergency room visits, deep vein thrombosis events and strokes. Coronavirus patients who were vaccinated against influenza were also less hospitalized in intensive care units. On the other hand, it should be noted that the study did not find important research findings, since in the last two years there have been no severe cases of influenza in Israel, no such cases have reached hospitals, so people claim 'why get vaccinated against influenza, since it does not exist'. However, the Health Ministry's disease treatment team has decided to recommend getting vaccinated against the flu again this year, because our concern is that following the two years in which the population was less vaccinated against the virus, there could be a situation of severe flu, with more violent and fatal outbreaks. If it turns out that the vaccine also protects against coronavirus damage - then that's another reason in favor of getting vaccinated against the flu."