The flu shot does not prevent COVID-19 because the seasonal flu vaccine targets different viruses. But a preliminary study suggests a flu shot may lower your risk of becoming severely ill should you get COVID-19. And there’s no doubt that a flu shot protects your heart and lowers your risk of a heart attack.
At Corrielus Cardiology, we’re dedicated to giving everyone in the community comprehensive heart services, including preventive cardiology, and providing the information they need to make good choices about their health care.
Here’s what we know about how the flu vaccine can protect your heart and potentially lower your risk of having a severe case of COVID-19 or dying from it.
Flu vaccine prevents a double infection
COVID-19 alone is dangerous for your heart. In addition to lowering your blood oxygen levels and making your heart work harder, it can cause heart inflammation and damage your heart muscles.
Seasonal flu also affects your heart. Studies show that you have a six times higher risk of having a heart attack within a week of having the flu. And among adults hospitalized with flu, 12% developed sudden, serious heart complications.
People who already have heart disease can’t afford to get either COVID-19 or the flu. While we don’t yet have a COVID-19 vaccine, you can at least get a flu vaccine and protect yourself from the serious risk of getting COVID-19 and seasonal flu at the same time.
Flu vaccine supports your heart health
Every fall, people get the current flu vaccine, thinking only about preventing a bout of the seasonal flu. Many don’t realize that getting a flu shot also protects their heart.
If you have a heart condition, you also have a higher risk of developing serious complications from the flu. These complications, which are prevented with a flu vaccine, include a heart attack, pneumonia, respiratory failure, and even death.
Should you need to go into the hospital, your overall risk of having a heart attack is significantly lower if you already had a flu vaccine. And having a flu shot may also lower your risk of dying in the event you suffer a heart attack.
Flu vaccine boosts your immune system
As you get older, your immune system naturally slows down and mounts a weaker response against invading germs. When you prevent the flu with a vaccine, the shot indirectly maintains a stronger immune system simply by protecting it from fighting an illness.
It also turns out that certain flu shots, called enhanced vaccines, can boost your immune system. These shots contain a higher dose of the antigen, which in turn activates a stronger antibody response. As a result, your immune system is strong and gives you better protection from the flu.
When to get the flu shot
The flu season typically peaks from December to February. Since it takes a little time for the antibodies to kick in after you get a flu shot, you should aim to get your vaccine by the end of October. However, you can get your shot any time during flu season.
Protecting yourself from COVID-19 during flu season
As a heart patient, it’s always essential to protect yourself from COVID-19, but following basic preventive measures is even more important during flu season.
Stay extra diligent about social distancing, wearing a mask, and washing your hands. In addition to lessening your chances of getting COVID-19, these basic steps also lower your risk of catching the flu.
If you have any questions about COVID-19 or the seasonal flu, don’t hesitate to call our office in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We’re here to help.