CDC: Flu hitting elderly especially hard, but only half of nursing home workers vaccinated

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Higher acuity residents drove skilled nursing home bed prices to record levels in 2013, report finds
Higher acuity residents drove skilled nursing home bed prices to record levels in 2013, report finds
The 2012-13 flu season has been especially bad for the elderly, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday in a call with reporters. Despite this, CDC figures show about half of nursing home workers have not been vaccinated.

Hospitalizations related to laboratory-confirmed flu cases among those 65 and older have reached a rate of 82 per 100,000 people, said CDC spokesman Tom Skinner. The rate for all age groups is about one-fourth as high, or 19 per 100,000.

“These rates are undoubtedly an underestimate because influenza-related hospitalizations can be missed either because the testing isn't performed or because cases may be attributed to other causes of pneumonia or other things that may result from influenza,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden. He called the rate of hospitalizations among the elderly “quite striking.”

Frieden also stressed the importance of vaccination for healthcare workers, including those in long-term care facilities. He said the CDC has gathered its best vaccination data ever this year. It shows a vaccination rate of about 85% among pharmacists, doctors and nurses. But the rate drops to around or below 50% for allied care workers, including those in nursing homes.

The rate of healthcare worker vaccinations “routinely” reaches 90% or higher in facilities that “make it easy” by providing the vaccine during work hours, at work stations, Frieden said.

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