Flu Vaccinations Needed, Safe for Hospital Patients

By David Costill
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New research from Kaiser Permanente, published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, found that vaccinating hospital patients for influenza did not increase outpatient visits or 7-day readmission risk.

The researchers recommend vaccinating hospital patients against influenza, after their results found that vaccination was not associated with increased fever or infection.

“We know rates of inpatient flu vaccination are low, often due to physician concerns that the vaccine could complicate healing or delay hospital discharge,” Sara Y. Tartof, PhD, MPH, study lead author, Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation, said in a press release.

Flu shot. Source: Getty

Further, the researchers found that patients who were not vaccinated during their hospital stay, were less likely to receive vaccination during that flu season.

“Our findings demonstrate that not vaccinating patients during a hospitalization may be a missed opportunity. Right now, only 28% of patients not already vaccinated prior to hospitalization are being vaccinated before they leave the hospital,” Tartof said. The researchers found that 74% of patients who did not receive a flu vaccine during their hospital stay remained unvaccinated.

The researchers conducted a retrospective cohort study of more than 250,000 patients aged 6 months and older for the 2011 through 2014 flu seasons.

Study results showed that 71% of patients who received vaccination during their hospital stay were vaccinated at discharge.

Additionally, there was no increased risk for readmissions, outpatient visits, fever, or clinical evaluations for infection in patients who received influenza vaccine during their hospital stay.

"This research backs up what many physicians have known intuitively for some time: Giving patients the flu vaccine while they are hospitalized is convenient and, most important, safe," Bruno J. Lewin, MD, a family practice physician at the Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center, said in the press release. "Unless there are contraindications, physicians should have no hesitation to vaccinate patients with the flu vaccine while they are hospitalized."

The researchers recommended vaccinating patients without adverse risk against influenza during their hospital stay.

“Every contact with a health care professional, including during a hospitalization, is an opportunity to vaccinate,” the researchers concluded.