May 9, 2014 – A new CDC study shows that flu vaccines prevent flu-associated hospitalizations in people 65 years and older, even during seasons when vaccine effectiveness is low. The study reinforces CDC’s existing recommendation for annual vaccination of adults 65 years and older who are at high risk for serious flu-related complications and often most impacted by serious flu disease each year resulting in hospitalization or death.
The study, published in Clinical Infectious Diseases online on May 6, 2014, used statistical modeling to estimate flu-vaccine-prevented hospitalizations in adults aged 65 years and older for estimates of vaccine effectiveness against medically attended influenza illness ranging from 10% to 70%. Researchers used CDC flu surveillance data collected during the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons. The 2011-12 season was considered to be a mild flu season, whereas the 2012-13 season was characterized as moderate to severe. Using data from these two seasons, researchers were able to determine the varying impact that flu vaccination had in terms of hospitalizations prevented.
Findings showed that during the more severe 2012-13 flu season, a flu vaccine with 10% effectiveness (and 66% coverage) would avert about 13,000 hospitalizations, whereas a vaccine with 40% effectiveness would avert about 60,000 hospitalizations. In contrast, during the more mild 2011-12 season, a flu vaccine with the same two effectiveness estimates would avert about 2,000 and 11,000 hospitalizations, respectively.
CDC estimates for overall vaccine effectiveness against medically attended influenza illness (across all age groups) for 2011-12 are 47% and for 2012-13 are 52%*. The estimates for people 65 and older are 43% for 2011-12 and 32% for 2012-13*. Vaccine coverage among people 65 years and older during 2011-12 is estimated to be 65% and 66% during 2012-13.
In addition to estimating hospitalizations prevented by vaccination during these two seasons, the study’s authors also analyzed how many people would need to be vaccinated to prevent one hospitalization. For the 2012-13 season, 476 people would need to be vaccinated to prevent one hospitalization, assuming vaccine effectiveness was 40%; whereas, for the 2011-12 season, 2,457 people would need to be vaccinated to prevent one hospitalization.
Therefore, the study showed that flu vaccination provides a greater benefit against hospitalization during moderate to severe seasons compared with milder seasons, and the number of people that need to be vaccinated to prevent hospitalizations is lower during moderate to severe seasons than during milder seasons. The reason for this is that more people are hospitalized during more severe seasons.
Researchers have known for some time that flu vaccine effectiveness generally is lower in the elderly than in younger, healthy adults. However, this research is reassuring that even when flu vaccination is associated with lower vaccine effectiveness, it can still have a measurable and significant impact on preventing hospitalizations in adults 65 years and older.
Ask us about our on-site employee wellness programs!
RVOH offers several services and options such as on-site employee wellness fairs or on-site flu shots. Let your employees know that you care about their health and happiness by taking an active role in preventative health diagnostics and vaccination.
This image illustrates the very beginning stages of an influenza (flu) infection. Most experts think that influenza viruses spread mainly through small droplets containing influenza virus. These droplets are expelled into the air when people infected with the flu cough, sneeze or talk. Once in the air, these small infectious droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby.
This image shows what happens after these influenza viruses enter the human body. The viruses attach to cells within the nasal passages and throat (i.e., the respiratory tract). The influenza virus’s hemagglutinin (HA) surface proteins then bind to the sialic acid receptors on the surface of a human respiratory tract cell. The structure of the influenza virus’s HA surface proteins is designed to fit the sialic acid receptors of the human cell, like a key to a lock. Once the key enters the lock, the influenza virus is then able to enter and infect the cell. This marks the beginning of a flu infection.
Everyone 6 months and older should get an annual flu vaccine. It takes about two weeks after vaccination for your body to develop an immune response. Get vaccinated now so you will be protected all season long!
Now that kids are back in school, we are reminded of many things typical of this time of year—parent-teacher meetings, sporting events and extracurricular activities. This time of year should also serve as an important reminder that flu season is just around the corner. By getting a flu vaccine for yourself and your entire family every year, you can help prevent flu-related illness, missed school, and missed work.
Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory disease that infects the nose, throat, and lungs and can lead to serious complications, hospitalization, or even death. Pneumonia and bronchitis are examples of serious flu-related complications. The flu also can cause certain health conditions, like diabetes, asthma, and heart and lung disease, to become worse. Anyone can become sick with the flu and experience serious complications. But even if you are healthy and bounce back quickly, others around you might not be so lucky. Getting a flu vaccine is the single best way to protect yourself and your family from this serious disease.
Everyone Needs a Flu Vaccine – Every Year
Flu viruses are constantly changing, and different flu viruses circulate and cause illness each season. The annual flu vaccine is updated each year to protect against the flu viruses research indicates will be most common. This is why everyone needs a flu vaccine every year.
Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu vaccine each year.
Vaccination is especially important for people who are at high risk for complications from flu, and for people who live with or care for someone who is at high risk. Some of those people include the following:
- Pregnant women
- Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
- People 50 years of age and older
- People of any age with certain chronic medical conditions, such as chronic respiratory (such as asthma), cardiovascular disease (except hypertension), or kidney, liver, neurologic, hematologic, or metabolic disorders (such as diabetes mellitus);
- People who are immunosuppressed
- People who are or will be pregnant during the influenza season
- Children who are 6 months through 18 years old and are on long-term aspirin therapy
- People who are morbidly obese
- American Indians/Alaska Natives
- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- People who live with or care for those at high risk for complications from flu, including:
- Health care workers
- Household contacts of persons at high risk for complications from the flu
- Household contacts and out of home caregivers of children less than 6 months of age (these children are too young to be vaccinated)
Get a Flu Vaccine Every Flu Season
You should get vaccinated every year for two reasons. The first reason is that because flu viruses are constantly changing, the flu vaccine is often updated from one season to the next to protect against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season. The second reason is that a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time so a yearly vaccination is needed for optimal protection. Yearly vaccination is recommended even for those who received the vaccine during the previous flu season.
A Reminder for Parents
Many children need two doses of flu vaccine this season to be fully protected. Children 6 months through 8 years of age who are getting vaccinated for the first time will need two doses. Some children in this age group who have received a flu vaccine in prior seasons will also need two doses. Your child’s health care provider can tell you whether two doses are recommended for your child.
The flu vaccine is safe. People have been receiving flu vaccines for more than 50 years. Vaccine safety is closely monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Hundreds of millions of flu vaccines have been given safely to people across the country for decades.
The flu vaccine cannot give you the flu. The most common side effects from a flu shot are soreness where the shot was given, maybe a low fever or achiness. The nasal spray flu vaccine might cause congestion, runny nose, sore throat, or cough. If you do experience them at all, these side effects are usually mild and short-lived.