From Pasadena, Kaiser Study Says Flu Vaccinations During Hospitalization Are Low-Risk Golden Opportunities

Published : Thursday, January 10, 2019 | 6:26 AM

A new study released by Pasadena-based Kaiser Permanente suggests that getting a flu shot during a hospital stay is a low-risk affair and that failing to do so represents a missed opportunity.

The study was published Jan. 9 in the publication “Mayo Clinic Proceedings,” and produced by the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research and Evaluation.

Its lead author, Sara Tartof, noted that the number of hospital patients given flu vaccinations is “low.” It posits further that, in many cases, failing to do so means that patient with appendicitis or tonsillitis being discharged probably won’t be coming back another day to get it done.

Infectious disease epidemiologist Sara Tartoff, PhD, MPH, Kaiser Permanente Southern California Research and Evaluation. Courtesy photo

“Right now,” Tartoff said in a statement, “only 28 percent of patients not already vaccinated prior to hospitalization are being vaccinated before they leave the hospital.”

The flu is a respiratory infection that is highly contagious and, in severe cases, can lead to death. The concern among physicians is that vaccinating hospitalized patients may increase the possibility of fever or infection.

“This really started as a myth-busting exercise,” Tartof explained. “There is still a lot of fear and hesitation around flu vaccine. There are many narratives that people use as reasons not vaccinate — being too sick is a common one.”

Prior research suggests that such is not the case and the Kaiser effort builds upon that conclusion.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that eligible, hospitalized patients receive the vaccination before being discharged.

The study focused on the electronic health records of more than 250,000 patients at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Southern California. The medical histories of patients from six months and upwards were analyzed during through three flu seasons from 2011 to 2014, from Sept. 1 to March 1.

Some 71 percent of patients given the vaccination during their stay had it administered on their last day of hospitalization.

The research, Kaiser said, revealed, “No increased risk of hospital readmission, outpatient visits, fever, or clinical evaluations for infection among patients who received the flu vaccine during their hospital stay.”

The study, “Safety Influenza Vaccination Administered During Hospitalization,” was funded by the CDC.

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