Vaccinating nursing home workers does not help prevent flu from spreading, study finds

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Giving nursing home workers a flu vaccine is ineffective at preventing the spread of influenza among residents, a new Canadian study suggests.

Researchers at the University of Calgary tested whether vaccinating nursing home workers had any effect on residents' rates of lab-confirmed cases of influenza, pneumonia, or deaths from pneumonia. Though they did discover a correlation between staff inoculations and reduced rates of flu-like illnesses (which could include illnesses cause by bacteria or viruses other that the influenza virus), researchers could not make a connection between staff vaccinations and reduced rates of confirmed influenza among residents, according to the report.

Many healthcare workers are reluctant to get a flu shot due to concerns over the shot's effectiveness, potential side effects, and perceptions that they and their patients are not at risk, according to the report. In light of their findings, researchers recommend further study into non-vaccine related interventions, such as hand washing, face masks, early influenza detection and asking workers with the flu to stay home. The report appears in a recent online edition of the Cochrane Library.

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