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Evidence Supports Flu Vaccine for Nursing Home Residents

Despite debate on effectiveness in this population, it saved lives, prevented hospitalizations

TUESDAY, Aug. 25, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- New evidence supports yearly influenza vaccination for protection among nursing home residents, a population for whom vaccine efficacy has been questioned, according to a study published online Aug. 17 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Stefan Gravenstein, M.D., M.P.H., of the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University in Providence, R.I., and colleagues analyzed data gathered from more than one million U.S. nursing home residents between 2000 and 2009, and found that the better matched the seasonal vaccine was for that year's flu strain, the lower the rates of flu-related hospitalization and death.

For every 1 percent increase in the match rate between the seasonal vaccine and flu virus, weekly deaths fell and hospitalizations declined among nursing home residents. Among the one million nursing home residents, a 50 percent increase in the match rate in a flu season would save the lives of more than 2,500 people and prevent 3,200 hospitalizations, according to the researchers.

"This study evidences protection for an elderly population for whom vaccine efficacy has been questioned," Gravenstein said in a university news release. "Annual vaccination is the only way to maximize the benefit of vaccine, no matter what the age."

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