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Most Patients Hospitalized With Flu Are Unvaccinated

23.6 percent of hospitalized patients vaccinated; rate even lower among those requiring ICU care

Most Patients Hospitalized With Flu Are Unvaccinated

MONDAY, Feb. 17, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Few patients hospitalized for influenza have been vaccinated, with the rate even lower among those requiring intensive care unit (ICU) care, according to a research letter published in the Feb. 15 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Jelena Catania, M.D., from the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., and colleagues reported their initial observations based on experience in the ICU with influenza A H1N1 pandemic 2009 virus (pH1N1) for the 2013 to 2014 influenza season. Hospital records were reviewed for all 55 hospitalized patients who tested positive for the influenza virus between Nov. 1, 2013, and Jan. 8, 2014 (median age, 28.5 years).

In recent weeks, the researchers identified a dramatic increase in the number of hospitalizations and ICU admissions. Most patients (87.3 percent) were infected with pH1N1. Fewer than one-quarter (23.6 percent) of patients were vaccinated against influenza at least two weeks before onset of illness; the vaccination rate was lower in patients requiring ICU care than in those admitted to general wards (9.1 versus 33.3 percent; P = 0.053). Among hospitalized patients infected with H1N1, the rate of ICU admission was 39.6 percent, which was 50 percent greater than the reported rate during the 2009 pandemic influenza season.

"Our observations support encouraging influenza vaccination for all individuals without a contraindication as this may prevent severe lower respiratory tract complications requiring ICU level care," the authors write.

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