INTRODUCTION: Recent evidence suggests that influenza vaccination may offer protection against COVID-19 severity. Our aim was to quantify the association between influenza vaccination status and risk of hospitalisation or all-cause mortality in people diagnosed with COVID-19. METHODS: A retrospective cohort study using routinely collected health records from patients registered to a General Practitioner (GP) practice in South West England within the Electronic Care and Health Information Analytics database. The cohort included 6921 people with COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic (1 January-31 July 2020). Data on influenza vaccination, hospitalisation and all-cause mortality were ascertained through linked clinical and demographic records. We applied propensity score methods (stabilised inverse probability of treatment weight) to quantify the association between influenza vaccination status and COVID-19 outcomes (hospitalisation or all-cause mortality). RESULTS: 2613 (38%) participants received an influenza vaccination between 1 January 2019 and COVID-19 diagnosis. Receipt of influenza vaccination was associated with a significantly lower odds of hospitalisation or all-cause mortality (adjusted OR: 0.85, 95% CI 0.75 to 0.97, p=0.02), and 24% reduced odds of all-cause mortality (adjusted OR: 0.76, 95% CI 0.64 to 0.90). DISCUSSION: Influenza vaccination was associated with a 15%-24% lower odds of severe COVID-19 outcomes. The current UK influenza vaccination programme needs urgent expansion as an integral component of the ongoing response plans to the COVID-19 pandemic.
BMJ Open Respir Res
COVID-19, infection control, innate immunity, respiratory infection