In yet another year dominated by the pandemic, “vaccine” seems to be the buzzword. People cannot stop talking about jabs, slots, and immunity. However, it is important to remember that there are other diseases you need protection from as well. 

Also, there are other vaccines apart from the COVID-19 one that health professionals are suggesting you should take, especially with the arrival of monsoons, when seasonal influenza (commonly called flu) marks its presence in India. 

Paediatricians have recommended that children should take flu shots to prevent getting sick with seasonal influenza. Since the symptoms of flu and COVID-19 overlap, parents may panic due to the symptoms shown by their children. 

Administering the flu vaccine to children would help reduce the incidence of the disease and prevent unnecessary testing and crowding in hospitals. 

Now, experts advocate that adults should get their yearly flu shots to protect themselves against flu in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

If you are wondering what is the connection between the flu vaccine and COVID-19, read on to find out more.

What is Seasonal Influenza or Flu?

Seasonal influenza (इन्फ्लुएंजा or फ्लू in Hindi), commonly called the “flu”, is an infection caused by influenza viruses, which attack the respiratory tract (nose, throat, and lungs). Influenza viruses A, B, and C affect humans primarily. 

The infection causes more serious symptoms than the common cold and may result in life-threatening complications in many people. 

The disease spreads through respiratory droplets, coughing, sneezing and touching the droplets on people or surfaces (contact or fomite borne), then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes without washing your hands. 

Seasonal influenza affects children and adults. However, young children (between six months and five years of age), pregnant women, the elderly, and people with chronic (long-term) health conditions are considered at higher risk. 

The most common symptoms of seasonal influenza are:

  • Fever

  • Chills 

  • Headache

  • Stuffy or runny nose

  • Cough

  • Sore throat

  • Muscle pain

  • Discomfort

  • Loss of appetite 

  • Fatigue

  • Vomiting and diarrhoea in children

Vaccine Against Seasonal Influenza

The viruses causing flu are constantly changing and new strains appear regularly. Every flu season, newer influenza strains are found to be circulating. 

Thus, each year, new strains are identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) before the flu season, and inevitably a new vaccine is offered as the best protection for that year. 

A new flu vaccine is needed every year, even if you have antibodies to a previous strain of the same virus. Flu vaccines are not 100% effective, but they reduce the seriousness of the infection if you contract it.

Side-effects of the vaccine are usually mild and include redness, soreness, and swelling around the point of injection, headache, fever, nausea, and fatigue.

Can Adults Get The Flu Shot?

Yes! The flu affects adults as well as children. So, the vaccine is available for and should be taken by all irrespective of age groups. 

Experts say that the more people in any age group get a flu vaccine, the more protected the vulnerable population is. 

Everyone above the age of six months should get a flu vaccine every year. It is also important for the elderly and those with comorbidities (one or more conditions co-occurring with a primary condition) to get a flu shot.

Flu Shot and COVID-19: What is The Connection?

Seasonal influenza and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses. Hence, their vaccine compositions also vary. While the flu vaccine itself will not protect against COVID-19, a group of researchers has recently identified lower COVID-19 rates among people who had received the flu shots earlier.

According to the study, the odds of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 was reduced by 24% in people who received a flu vaccine compared to those who did not. 

People who had been vaccinated against the flu had better outcomes and were less likely to require mechanical ventilation and extended hospitalization than people who had not been vaccinated. 

The researchers do not know why the relationship between flu shots and COVID-19 exists but indicate that influenza vaccination presents no harmful effect such as increasing susceptibility to COVID-19 or worsening the severity of the disease.

Another study is suggestive of the fact that children who receive seasonal flu shots are less likely to suffer symptoms of COVID-19 infections. Though the study cited viral interference (a phenomenon by which the growth of one virus can be inhibited by previous infection with another related or unrelated virus in the same host) as one of the possible explanations for the results of the study, it also stated that it is too premature to conclude only based on viral interference. There may be more explanations for the protective value of flu vaccination against COVID-19 infection.

As a final note, though there may be no clear evidence of the flu vaccine protecting against COVID-19, it provides several advantages in protecting against seasonal influenza, and its severe consequences, including hospitalization. 

To stay protected from the flu this season, and to do your bit to lessen the burden on the country’s health infrastructure, which is struggling with COVID-19, consult your doctor and get yourself vaccinated against flu. 


1. Conlon, A., Ashur, C., Washer, L., Eagle, K. and Hofmann Bowman, M., 2021. Impact of the influenza vaccine on COVID-19 infection rates and severity. American Journal of Infection Control, 49(6), pp.694-700.

2. Patwardhan, A. and Ohler, A., 2021. The Flu Vaccination May Have a Protective Effect on the Course of COVID-19 in the Pediatric Population: When Does Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Meet Influenza?. Cureus.

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