Relationship between Influenza Vaccination Coverage Rate and COVID-19 Outbreak: An Italian Ecological Study

Vaccines (Basel). 2020 Sep 16;8(3):535. doi: 10.3390/vaccines8030535.


Background: The lack of specific vaccines or drugs against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) warrants studies focusing on alternative clinical approaches to reduce the spread of this pandemic disease. In this study, we investigated whether anti-influenza vaccination plays a role in minimizing the diffusion of COVID-19 in the Italian population aged 65 and over. Methods: Four COVID-19 outcomes were used: severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) seroprevalence, hospitalizations for COVID-19 symptoms, admissions to intensive care units for reasons related to SARS-CoV-2, and deaths attributable to COVID-19. Results: At univariate analyses, the influenza vaccination coverage rates correlated negatively with all COVID-19 outcomes (Beta ranging from -134 to -0.61; all p < 0.01). At multivariable analyses, influenza vaccination coverage rates correlated independently with SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence (Beta (95% C.I.): -130 (-198, -62); p = 0.001), hospitalizations for COVID-19 symptoms (Beta (95% C.I.): -4.16 (-6.27, -2.05); p = 0.001), admission to intensive care units for reasons related to SARS-CoV-2 (Beta (95% C.I.): -0.58 (-1.05, -0.12); p = 0.017), and number of deaths attributable to COVID-19 (Beta (95% C.I.): -3.29 (-5.66, -0.93); p = 0.010). The R2 observed in the unadjusted analysis increased from 82% to 159% for all the considered outcomes after multivariable analyses. Conclusions: In the Italian population, the coverage rate of the influenza vaccination in people aged 65 and over is associated with a reduced spread and a less severe clinical expression of COVID-19. This finding warrants ad hoc studies to investigate the role of influenza vaccination in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID-19; coronavirus spread; influenza vaccination coverage rate.