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Flu Vaccine Cuts Respiratory Hospitalization Rates

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 16 Aug 2017
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Image: Research shows high-dose flu shots reduce respiratory hospitalizations (Photo courtesy of Catherine Lane / iStock).
Image: Research shows high-dose flu shots reduce respiratory hospitalizations (Photo courtesy of Catherine Lane / iStock).
High-dose influenza vaccination can reduce risk of respiratory-related hospitalization among nursing home residents aged 65 years and older, according to a new study.

Researchers at Brown University (Providence, RI, USA), Providence Veterans Administration Medical Center (RI, USA), and other institutions conducted a study to compare the effectiveness of high-dose versus standard-dose influenza vaccination on nursing home resident admittance to hospital across the United States. To do so, they analyzed Medicare claims data from 38,256 residents of 823 nursing homes during the 2013 to 2014 flu season. High-dose flu vaccine was given to residents of 409 homes, while residents in the other homes received a standard dose.

The results revealed that the incidence of respiratory-related hospital admissions was significantly lower in facilities where residents received high-dose influenza vaccines (0.185 per 1,000 resident-days, or 3.4% over six months) than in those that received standard-dose influenza vaccines (0.211 per 1,000 resident-days or 3·9% over six months). The study was published on July 21, 2017, in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

“If given to all approximately 1.5 million nursing home residents, a one percent drop in hospitalizations would translate to thousands fewer being hospitalized,” said lead author Stefan Gravenstein, MD, MPH, of Brown University. “In our study, we estimated that for every 84 individuals receiving the high-dose vaccine, a person was prevented from being hospitalized during the influenza season.”

The group most vulnerable to non-pandemic flu, the elderly, benefits least from vaccination, due to declining immunological function, frailty, and other morbidities associated with advanced age. In a non-pandemic year, a person over age 65 is over ten times more likely to die an influenza-associated death than those in the 50–64 age group. A new, specifically formulated influenza vaccine with four times the dosage provides a stronger immune response against influenza than the regular-dose vaccine.

Related Links:
Brown University
Providence Veterans Administration Medical Center

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