The Flu Shot is Linked to Lower COVID Risk

Plus, four other health updates from Michigan researchers
flu shot
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Flu shot finding raises hopes and questions 

A February study released by researchers at the University of Michigan found something promising, yet not yet understood: The flu vaccine lowers risk for contracting COVID-19. Researchers found the odds of testing positive for COVID-19 were reduced in flu shot recipients by about 24 percent compared to those who didn’t get vaccinated against the flu in the previous year. Though more studies on this are needed, the authors write, it is just one more reason to get the flu shot. 

U.S. far behind U.K. in vaccine willingness 

Only 51 percent of Americans expressed a willingness to take the COVID-19 vaccine compared to 71 percent of residents in the United Kingdom within the first nine months of the pandemic, according to a new policy brief from Michigan State University’s Quello Center. Factors at play include demographic information such as age, gender, income, and race. Black participants in the United States were 64 percent less willing to be vaccinated than white people, and women were 43 percent less willing to be vaccinated than men.

pandemic pets
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One in 10 older adults adopted a ‘pandemic pet’

About 10 percent of all U.S. adults ages 50 to 80 adopted a new pet between March 2020 and January 2021, according to a new survey from the University of Michigan. Nearly 60 percent of people ages 50 to 80 who took the survey in January are reportedly pet owners, and among those, 17 percent had gotten at least one pet since the pandemic and its associated social isolation began.

Researchers are developing a COVID-19 diagnostic tool for children

Researchers from Wayne State University and Central Michigan University are working on a portable, rapid device that can detect early COVID-19 in children and prevent critical illness. Though COVID-19 is often less severe in children, it sometimes leads to Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C) and respiratory failure. Nearly 80 percent of children with MIS-C become critically ill. As it stands, severe coronavirus disease in children often goes overlooked because it’s rare and symptoms mimic other illnesses.

noise exposure
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Daily noise exposure reaches dangerous levels

The University of Michigan School of Public Health has partnered with Apple to test hearing loss and dangerous levels of noise exposure. Using Apple’s Noise app, which measures noise levels in surrounding areas, researchers have found that 25 percent of participants experience daily sound exposure, including traffic noises or heavy machinery, that is higher than the World Health Organization’s recommended limit. Headphone noise levels were higher than safe levels in one out of 10 participants.