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 Flu Shots For LTC Workers Cut Down On Flu In Facilities

​A new report says research conducted by the New Mexico Department of Health shows high vaccination coverage of direct-care workers in long term care facilities helps prevent influenza outbreaks among residents.

The report appeared in the most recent Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

The findings may appear to be common sense, but often the focus of flu vaccine programs is the residents, without as much attention paid to the people who care for them on a daily basis.

Aaron Wendelboe, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, and a report author, says there are two equally important takeaways from the new work.

“The first is that to reduce the transmission of influenza in long term care facilities [nursing homes] it is as important to vaccinate the health care personnel as the residents themselves. The second is that although administrators should vaccinate as many employees as possible, it’s not critical to get 100 percent coverage; 75 percent coverage gets you a lot of bang for your buck,” Wendelboe says.

To get to this conclusion, the New Mexico Department of Health implemented active surveillance in all of its 75 long term care facilities during the flu seasons of 2006 to 2007 and 2007 to 2008.

Information about the number of laboratory-confirmed cases of flu and the proportion vaccinated of both residents and direct-care employees in each facility was collected monthly.

To access the report, click http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublication?journalCode=infeconthospepid.

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