Flu vaccination rates: staff up, seniors down

Older adults had the most significant drop in flu vaccination rates over the last flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Older adults had the most significant drop in flu vaccination rates over the last flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The rate at which nursing home staff are receiving flu shots is rising, but seniors are lagging, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Long-term care workers hit a 69% vaccination rate during the 2015-2016 flu season, compared to 64% the previous season.

The trend may reflect an increase in mandatory vaccination policies, experts said.

“This is progress, but it still leaves too many unprotected from flu,” CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., MPH, said.  

Older adults had the most significant decreases in vaccination rates over the last flu season, the CDC reported. The rate for those over the age of 65 dropped 3.3 percentage points to 63.4%. 

That is a dangerous sign, since seniors suffer the most illness and deaths because of flu each year.

“During the severe 2014-2015 season, more than three-quarters of the nearly one million people hospitalized due to influenza were age 65 years and older,” said William Schaffner, M.D., medical director for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.