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 High-Dose Flu Vaccine Curbs Hospitalizations for Long-Stay SNF Residents, Study Says

​New data from a study in JAMDA show that while influenza is a leading cause of avoidable and costly hospital admissions for long-stay skilled nursing facility (SNF) residents, the risk of an individual being sent to the hospital for this reason can be greatly reduced with the use of high-dose (HD) vaccines versus the standard-dose (SD) variety.

In the study, “In Cost Benefit of High-Dose vs Standard-Dose Influenza Vaccine in a Long-Term Care Population During an A/H1N1 Predominant Influenza Season,” researchers examined expenditures from long-stay SNF residents’ Medicare Part A, B, and D fee-for-service claims. These claims were then compared to expenditures between residents of facilities that offered HD instead of SD vaccines.

“Even considering that HD vaccines cost $20 more than SD, there was a net financial savings to Medicare of $526 for patients who received the higher dose,” the report said. The savings “are in addition to the net loss of health or healthy time experienced by individuals receiving SD instead of HD. These cost offsets applied to Medicare beneficiaries residing in NHs [nursing homes] could result in important savings to the Medicare program.

HD vaccines by the dose cost $31.82 as compared to the SD cost of $12.04 per dose, the authors said.

The study comes nearly a decade after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended expanding influenza vaccinations to include all adults. This move was based on the “opportunity to reduce the substantial public health care burden of influenza and advance vaccine coverage,” the authors said.

They added that the goal of the new study was to add to the existing body of literature on the cost-effectiveness of the HD influenza vaccine, particularly in older adults in the SNF setting. Researchers taking part are from the Brown School of Public Health Service Policy & Practice, Center for Gerontology & Healthcare Research, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Insight Therapeutics, Providence Veterans Administration Hospital, and Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.

In the study pool of SNF residents, there were 18,605 and 18,658 Medicare fee-for-service long-stay residents in facilities offering HD and SD, respectively.

JAMDA is the official journal of AMDA – The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine. Read the complete study at https://paltc.org/node/6179.

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