Flu Vaccines for Nursing Home Staff Protects Residents

Benefits seen in mild flu seasons even with incomplete vaccine coverage of staff

FRIDAY, Dec. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Influenza vaccination of nursing home staff can protect residents from influenza and its consequences, according to a report published online Dec. 1 in BMJ.

Andrew C. Hayward, Ph.D., of the University College London Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined the effects of flu vaccination of staff members at 44 nursing homes. In nursing homes where the researchers promoted vaccination, 48.2 percent of staff received a vaccine in 2003-2004 and 43.2 percent received the flu shot in 2004-2005. In control nursing homes where flu shots for staff were not promoted, 5.9 percent of staff were vaccinated in 2003-2004 and 3.5 percent were vaccinated in 2004-2005.

Levels of flu-like illness, physician consultations and death (-5 per 100 residents) from flu were lower among residents in intervention homes during the 2003-2004 flu season than in the control homes, the researchers report. There were no differences in levels of illness or death among nursing home residents in the two groups during the 2004-2005 flu season, which may be due to a milder flu season in general.

"Campaigns to promote influenza vaccination among health care workers or staff of long-term care facilities should emphasize the protection of vulnerable patients and residents as well as the benefits to the individual," the researchers conclude.

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