Nixing flu vaccine for hospitalized patients could be blown opportunity, study suggests

Hospitalized patients vaccinated for the flu did not have an increased risk of outpatient visits or hospital readmission within seven days of discharge, a study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found.

The study, conducted by Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente, built on previous research that found surgical patients who got the flu vaccine during their hospitalization did not have increased risks of complications or delay in discharge compared to those who were not vaccinated during their stay.

This retrospective cohort study analyzed the EHRs of over 250,000 patients hospitalized during any of three flu seasons from 2011 to 2014 with admission and discharge dates between September 1 and March 31 of the next year.

"We know rates of inpatient flu vaccination are low, often due to physician concerns that the vaccine could complicate healing or delay hospital discharge," said lead study author Sara Tartof, PhD. "Our findings demonstrate that not vaccinating patients during a hospitalization may be a missed opportunity. Right now, only 28 percent of patients not already vaccinated prior to hospitalization are being vaccinated before they leave the hospital."

The study also found vaccinating hospital patients did not increase their risk of fever or rates of laboratory evaluations for infection. Most patients who were not vaccinated during their hospitalization stayed unvaccinated for the entire flu season, according to the study.

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