CDC issues new guidelines on pneumococcal vaccine, says LTC flu vaccination rates remain low

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Tom Frieden, M.D., receives his flu shot on Thursday, Sept. 18
Tom Frieden, M.D., receives his flu shot on Thursday, Sept. 18

Long-term care workers continued to have low rates of flu vaccination last season, despite there being 92% vaccination coverage overall among physicians and nurses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

Coverage for nurses overall was up five percentage points from 2013-2014 to 90.5%, and pharmacists clocked in close to 86%. Long-term care professionals had a 63% rate, the same as last season.

The CDC said this lower rate could partially be due to stricter vaccine requirements in hospitals, which had around a 90% rate, but said it also may be due to the high percentage of assistants or aides working in long-term care. That group has the lowest percentage of being vaccinated among healthcare workers, regardless of where they are employed, the CDC said.

The states with the highest vaccination rates during the season were South Dakota and Rhode Island. The lowest were Florida and Wyoming.

The CDC also published new guidelines for seniors Thursday that recommend adding the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. Pneumococcal bacteria causes a severe type of pneumonia, as well as potentially leading to meningitis, blood poisoning and other infections. Those over age 65 should first receive one dose of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and then one dose of pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, ideally six to 12 months later, the CDC said.

The latest influenza vaccination coverage estimates were announced by Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., Director of the CDC. They were published in this week's issue of CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, as well as on CDC's FluVaxView website.