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Scientists Uncover a Surprising New Benefit of Flu Vaccination

Scientists Uncover a Surprising New Benefit of Flu Vaccination thumbnail

Flu Vaccine Syringe

The flu vaccine is a preventive measure that helps protect against influenza, a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the flu virus. The vaccine is typically administered in the form of a shot or nasal spray and is recommended for people of all ages, especially those who are at higher risk of complications from the flu, such as young children, older adults, and individuals with certain underlying medical conditions. Getting the flu vaccine can reduce the risk of getting sick with the flu, lessen the severity of symptoms if you do get sick, and prevent the spread of the virus to others.

A recent University of Calgary study indicates that the annual flu vaccine lowers the risk of stroke. 

According to researchers from the University of Calgary, the flu vaccine can lower the risk of stroke in adults, even if they are not at high risk for stroke. A team of investigators conducted a study by reviewing the health records of more than 4 million Albertans over a period of nine years. The study results suggest that influenza vaccination should be strongly recommended for everyone, similar to how it is already recommended for individuals with heart disease.

“The flu shot is known to reduce the risk of heart attack and hospitalization for people with heart disease. We wanted to find out whether the vaccine has the same protective qualities for those at risk of stroke,” says Dr. Michael Hill, MD, a researcher at the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM) and principal investigator on the study. “Our findings show the risk of stroke is lower among people who have recently received a flu shot. This was true for all adults, not just those at high risk of having a stroke.”

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The data for the study was obtained from the Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan. Researchers took into account various factors such as age, use of anticoagulants, and risk factors including chronic health conditions in their analysis.

“We found that the risk of stroke was significantly reduced in the six months following an influenza vaccination.,” says Dr. Jessalyn Holodinsky, Ph.D., a postdoctoral scholar at the CSM and first author of the study. “The findings suggest broad influenza vaccination may be a viable public health strategy to prevent stroke.”

The study was recently published in DOI: 10.1016/S2468-2667(22)00222-5

The study adds to the body of research conducted by the Calgary Stroke Program, a collaboration between the University of Calgary (Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Department of Clinical Neurosciences) and Alberta Health Services at the Foothills Medical Centre.

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