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Influenza Vaccinations Reduce Dialysis Hospitalization Rates

By Daniel Beris
Posted on 07 Dec 2016
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Image: Research suggests dialysis patients should not skip their flu shots (Photo courtesy of iStock).
Image: Research suggests dialysis patients should not skip their flu shots (Photo courtesy of iStock).
Hemodialysis patients who skipped their influenza vaccine were significantly more likely to be hospitalized than those who were vaccinated, according to a new study.

Researchers at Fresenius Kidney Care North America (Waltham, MA, USA) conducted a study that tracked flu vaccination and hospitalization rates during three flu seasons at Fresenius Kidney Care dialysis centers, where the patients received their hemodialysis therapy. These included 158,326 patients in 2013-2014; 202,793 in 2014-2015; and 220,203 in 2015-2016. The researchers then calculated hospitalization rate per patient-year and rate ratio (RR), and found that 60.1%, 75.6%, and 80.4% of the patients for each season were vaccinated, respectively.

An analysis of the results revealed that patients who skipped vaccination were 53% more likely to be hospitalized during the flu season the first year, 87% more likely to be hospitalized the second year, and 158% more likely to be hospitalized the third year. Based on these results, the researchers called for an aggressive program for promoting flu vaccination among dialysis patients. The study was presented at the annual Kidney Week meeting, held during November 2016 in Chicago (IL, USA).

“While almost everyone should be vaccinated against influenza, people with kidney failure who are on dialysis are at high risk for complications if they get sick, which is why it is vital they get the flu vaccine every year,” said lead author biostatistician Nien Chen Li, MPH, MS, MA. “We're gratified to see that our patients are increasingly choosing to be vaccinated.”

“The results of this research suggest that aggressive programs to promote flu vaccination makes a significant difference in keeping kidney patients healthy and out of the hospital,” said Frank Maddux, MS, chief medical officer and executive VP for clinical and scientific affairs at Fresenius Medical Care. “We make it easy for patients by offering the flu vaccine at the clinic where they receive their care and explaining to them why the flu shot is important to their health. More and more patients are taking advantage of these crisis-preventing vaccinations.”

Related Links:
Fresenius Kidney Care North America

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