Final rule on flu vaccinations draws concern from providers

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Providers reacted cautiously to the government's release last week of its final rule requiring long-term care facilities to immunize residents against the flu.

The American Association of Homes and Services for the Aged, while pleased that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is working to protect residents' health, said it wants nursing facilities to have enough time to implement the required protocols and procedures.

AAHSA President Larry Minnix also is concerned with the possibility that nursing homes could be penalized for not providing vaccine during a shortage.

The final rule requires all residents to receive flu shots except those residents or their families who refuse. Also, residents who cannot receive vaccines for medical reasons are exempt. The rule also requires nursing homes to educate the resident or the family about the advantages and disadvantages of receiving the vaccines.

The rule is available at the following site: http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/01jan20051800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2005/pdf/05-19987.pdf.