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Nursing Home Staff Who Get Flu Shots Save Residents' Lives

Garcia & Artigliere

A new study has found that staff in nursing homes can dramatically reduce the risk of a deadly flu outbreak in the facility by getting flu shots.

Confirming previous studies and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the University of Oklahoma study found that when between 51 and 75 percent of direct caregivers are vaccinated against the flu, the odds of a flu outbreak in that facility decreased by a dramatic 87 percent.

In an unexpected finding, the study also found that when a high number of residents were vaccinated against the flu, an outbreak was more likely to occur. Researchers suggest that this may be because those facilities place too great of a reliance on the flu vaccine and do little else to prevent an outbreak.

Since people ages 65 and older stand a greater chance of developing complications in a flu outbreak, it is important to take all steps to prevent a flu outbreak.

It is estimated that 90 percent of seasonal flu-related deaths and more than 60 percent of seasonal flu-related hospitalizations in the United States each year occur in people age 65 and older.

To help prevent a deadly influenza outbreak in your loved ones nursing home residence, you can:

  • Have the nursing home offer a flu vaccine to all residents.
  • Make sure that your loved one gets their flu shot early.
  • Encourage the nursing home to teach residents about everyday preventative actions like hand washing, covering a cough, and avoiding people who are sick.
  • Make sure that your loved one gets medical care quickly if they begin experiencing flu-like symptoms.
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