Influenza vaccine protects from COVID-19 by 24% — Expert

June 3, 2021
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EVEN as COVID-19 infection continues to spread in Nigeria, a medical expert Professor Adesoji Fasanmade says Nigerians can reduce their odds of testing positive for COVID-19 by 24 per cent by taking the influenza vaccine.

Fasanmade, an endocrinologist, speaking at the University College Hospital (UCH) hybrid grand round and scientific meeting with the theme ‘The Value of Influenza vaccination in Nigeria,” said flu vaccination needs to be promoted to reduce the susceptibility and severity of COVID-19 in Nigeria.

Professor Fasanmade stated that vaccinated patients testing positive for COVID-19 were less likely to require hospitalisation or mechanical ventilation and had a shorter hospital length of stay.

The expert stated that influenza vaccination is a more cost-effective strategy that has proved very effective in ensuring a reduction in the rate of heart failure, stroke and acute myocardial infarction in people with type 2 diabetes.

According to him, people with diabetes are recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for influenza vaccination because influenza is more frequent and more severe among patients with diabetes.

He added that patients with diabetes are three to six times more likely to be hospitalised from influenza and have a six-fold increased risk of death from influenza complications.

The expert said influenza vaccination is also recommended by the WHO for pregnant women, children between six months and five years, elderly people as well as people with underlying health conditions as asthma, chronic heart or lung diseases and HIV/AIDS as well as health workers.

Dr Oluwajimi Sodipo, the influenza site coordinator at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), said there are cases of influenza all the year round in Nigeria, but with an upsurge from August to October.

Sodipo, the head, department of Family Medicine, LASUTH, said influenza remains a cause of severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) and SARI is common among those with pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes and chronic kidney disease.

According to him, there was a need for influenza preventive measures like vaccination since influenza is more common in the extremes of age.

Dr Adeola Fowotade, a consultant clinical virologist, UCH, said the influenza virus is an ever-present threat whose symptoms are often mistaken for the common cold or flu.

According to Dr Fowotade, vaccination is the hallmark of its prevention and there is an urgent need to vaccinate all at-risk persons including healthcare workers.

Earlier, UCH’s Chief Medical Director, Professor Jesse Otegbayo had said influenza is an infection that mothers particularly need to know more about because it is commoner in children and has been ravaging the world.

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