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This Surprisingly Common Thing Could Majorly Cut Your COVID Risk, Says New Study

Why put yourself at risk?
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

A recent study shows that those who got a flu shot were nearly 90% less likely to develop severe COVID-19 over the next few months. It's possible that Influenza vaccines may also be effective in preventing COVID-19, particularly in its most severe form. However, it is unclear how flu vaccines work to protect against COVID or how long this protection lasts. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Why COVID Still Worries Me

Biotechnology scientist in ppe suit researching DNA in laboratory using microscope. team examining virus evolution using high tech for scientific research of vaccine development against covid19
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As an immunologist and vaccine researcher at NYU Langone Health, I'm worried about new more contagious variants that are causing cases and hospitalizations to rise all across the country. Especially among much of our population (children under 5) are unprotected due to lack of a vaccine. 

2

How Flu Vaccines Can be Effective Against COVID

Doctor's gloved hands using cotton before vaccine.
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The observational study published in Nature showed that immunization to flu protected against COVID-19 and coronaviruses in 30,000 healthcare workers. The thought is by getting your flu shot you are ramping up general immunity to all viruses in your immune system since the same immune cells are used to fight a multitude of viruses. 

The protection is limited between 6 months to 2 years so it is best to receive both vaccines. 

3

How Long Does the Protection from COVID-19 Vaccine Last?

Family after getting covid-19 vaccine.
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Our understanding is ongoing but there is evidence our immune system's T cells still protect well from both hospitalizations and death even from the initial series despite antibodies waning. 

However, if you are a high-risk individual or someone who is immunocompromised due to an underlying condition or take a medicine that suppresses your immune system your immunity may need a booster or two. This applies to all vaccines, not just COVID vaccines. Also, length of immunity may depend on which vaccine you receive as doses vary even between the two mRNA vaccines and two adenovirus vector vaccines.

4

What Kind of Vaccines Against COVID We Can Expect in the Future?

Female scientist working in the CDC laboratory.
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There are protein subunit vaccines on the horizon, a pan variant vaccine being studied, variant-specific mRNA vaccines as well as nasal vaccines being studied.

5

How to Stay Safe From COVID Now?

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Simple measures go a long way: wear a medical-grade mask (N95, KN95), wash hands frequently, avoid large crowds in enclosed spaces, and stay up to date with vaccines and boosters. And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Dr. Purvi Parikh, MD, is an allergist and immunologist at NYU Langone Health.

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