Vaccinate more workers to limit flu: study

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Nursing homes with higher rates of flu vaccinations among direct caregivers have a dramatically lower number of flu outbreaks.

A new study confirms previous research and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that have encouraged vaccinating healthcare workers against influenza. Until now, the University of Oklahoma researchers weren't certain of the extent to which these vaccinations protect residents. In their study of 75 New Mexico nursing homes, they found that when 51% to 75% of direct care workers in a facility were vaccinated, the odds of a flu outbreak in that facility dropped by 87%.

The researchers also found that nursing homes that relied solely on higher rates of vaccinated residents had a higher probability of flu outbreaks.

“We suspect a large factor is that facilities with high resident vaccination rates may over-rely on the direct protection bestowed by vaccinating the residents and under-value the indirect protection bestowed by vaccinating employees,” said author Aaron Wendelboa, Ph.D.

The study was published in the October issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

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