Children who receive a flu vaccination jab are less likely to suffer symptoms from COVID-19, new research has shown.
It’s due to a phenomenon known as virus interference, the researchers say.
The research – based on a review of 900 children diagnosed with COVID-19 in 2020 – suggests that children who had a flu vaccine were less likely to experience severe symptoms.
Children who had a pneumococcal vaccine – known as the pneumonia vaccine – were also less likely to experience symptoms, the researchers say.
Anjali Patwardhan, MD, professor of paediatric rheumatology and child health at the University of Missouri School of Medicine said: ‘“It is known that the growth of one virus can be inhibited by a previous viral infection.”
“This phenomenon is called virus interference, and it can occur even when the first virus invader is an inactivated virus, such as the case with the flu vaccine.”
The findings could help to explain why some ethnic minorities suffer higher levels of coronavirus infection, researchers suggested.
Patwardhan said further study will be needed to establish whether low levels of vaccination in some ethnic groups are linked to severe coronavirus symptoms.
“Based on these findings, we hypothesize that the higher incidence of COVID-19 in minority populations may also reflect their low vaccination rate apart from other health inequalities," Patwardhan added.
The research reviewed records from 905 paediatric patients diagnosed with COVID-19 between February and August 2020 to determine each patient’s influenza vaccination history.
She found that the COVID-19 positive children who received the influenza vaccine in the current flu season had lower odds of experiencing symptoms, respiratory problems or severe disease.
Patwardhan believes that the findings could help to control the spread of the virus.
“Research on the paediatric population is critical because children play a significant role in influencing viral transmission,” she said.
“Understanding the relationship and co-existence of other viruses alongside COVID-19 and knowing the vaccination status of the pediatric patient may help in deploying the right strategies to get the best outcomes.”
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