Examining the potential benefits of the influenza vaccine against SARS-CoV-2: A retrospective cohort analysis of 74,754 patients

Susan M. Taghioff, Benjamin R. Slavin, Tripp Holton, Devinder Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Introduction Recently, several single center studies have suggested a protective effect of the influenza vaccine against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). This study utilizes a continuously updated Electronic Medical Record (EMR) network to assess the possible benefits of influenza vaccination mitigating critical adverse outcomes in SARSCoV-2 positive patients from 56 healthcare organizations (HCOs). Methods The de-identified records of 73,346,583 patients were retrospectively screened. Two cohorts of 37,377 patients, having either received or not received influenza vaccination six months-two weeks prior to SARS-CoV-2 positive diagnosis, were created using Common Procedural Terminology (CPT) and logical observation identifiers names and codes (LOINC) codes. Adverse outcomes within 30, 60, 90, and 120 days of positive SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis were compared between cohorts. Outcomes were assessed with stringent propensity score matching including age, race, ethnicity, gender, hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), obesity, heart disease, and lifestyle habits such as smoking. Results SARS-CoV-2-positive patients who received the influenza vaccine experienced decreased sepsis (p<0.01, Risk Ratio: 1.361-1.450, 95% CI:1.123-1.699, NNT:286) and stroke (p<0.02, RR: 1.451-1.580, 95% CI:1.075-2.034, NNT:625) across all time points. ICU admissions were lower in SARS-CoV-2-positive patients receiving the influenza vaccine at 30, 90, and 120 days (p<0.03, RR: 1.174-1.200, 95% CI:1.003-1.385, NNT:435), while approaching significance at 60 days (p = 0.0509, RR: 1.156, 95% CI:0.999-1.338). Patients who received the influenza vaccine experienced fewer DVTs 60-120 days after positive SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis (p<0.02, RR:1.41-1.530, 95% CI:1.082-2.076, NNT:1000) and experienced fewer emergency department (ED) visits 90-120 days post SARS-CoV-2-positive diagnosis (p<0.01, RR:1.204-1.580, 95% CI: 1.050-1.476, NNT:176). Conclusion Our analysis outlines the potential protective effect of influenza vaccination in SARS-CoV-2-positive patients against adverse outcomes within 30, 60, 90, and 120 days of a positive diagnosis. Significant findings favoring influenza vaccination mitigating the risks of sepsis, stroke, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), emergency department (ED) & Intensive Care Unit (ICU) admissions suggest a potential protective effect that could benefit populations without readily available access to SARS-CoV-2 vaccination. Thus further investigation with future prospective studies is warranted

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0255541
JournalPloS one
Issue number8 August
StatePublished - Aug 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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