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More LTC workers but fewer seniors getting their flu shot

October 4, 2016
by Nicole Stempak, Senior Editor
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More healthcare workers are getting vaccinated against influenza. The number rose for the third straight season, according to new statistics released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID).

A total of 79 percent of healthcare workers, including nonmedical staff, were vaccinated for the 2015-2016 season, compared with 77.3 percent in 2014-2015 and 75.2 percent in 2013-2014. "And why do you think that is?" asked CDC director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH at the annual influenza penumoccoal conference. "Because we know that it works, that it protects ourselves, our families, our patients.

"There's some evidence that suggests that if the vaccination rate is higher in a nursing home, the residents of that nursing home are less likely to die in that flu season. So we're encouraged by that continuing increase in long-term care vaccination."

The 2015-2016 record-breaking number includes an all-time vaccination high of 95.6 percent of physicians and nearly 70 percent of long-term care workers. That’s important because LTC workers are exposed to an especially vulnerable population. More than three-quarters of those hospitalized for the flu in 2013-2014 were age 64 and older. 

The percentage of people age 65 and older who were vaccinated decreased from 67 percent in 2014-2015 to 63 percent in 2015-2016, the highest decrease in vaccination coverage by age group. National influenza vaccination coverage fell to 45.6 percent down from 47.1 percent the previous year.


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