Physician's First Watch for October 4, 2007
David G. Fairchild, MD, MPH, Editor-in-Chief
Flu Vaccination Helps the Elderly Avoid Hospitalization, Death
A long-term study in New England Journal of Medicine adds to previous short-term evidence indicating that influenza vaccination reduces the risk of hospitalization for pneumonia or influenza, as well as all-cause mortality, among community-dwelling elderly adults.
Researchers evaluated data, covering 10 flu seasons, from HMOs across the U.S. After multivariate adjustment, vaccinated adults ages 65 and older were 27% less likely to be hospitalized for pneumonia or influenza during the flu season — and 48% less likely to die from any cause — compared with unvaccinated adults. The risk reductions remained significant in a sensitivity analysis designed to control for residual confounding.
The authors call for strategies to improve the "stagnant" vaccination rates in this population. In addition, an editorialist stresses the importance of immunizing those in frequent contact with the elderly, noting the "appalling" vaccination rates among healthcare workers, who "can easily serve as vehicles of doom for their unsuspecting patients."
NEJM article (Free)
NEJM editorial (Subscription required) -->