Older Adults Benefit From Flu Vaccinations, Study Finds
Individuals ages 65 and older who receive influenza vaccinations significantly reduce their risk for death from any cause and hospitalization from complications of flu, according to a study published on Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, Bloomberg/Philadelphia Inquirer reports (Lauerman, Bloomberg/Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/4).
For the study, researchers at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center examined the medical records of 713,872 adults ages 65 and older in Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Washington state and Wisconsin over 10 flu seasons from 1990 to 2000 (Jarvis, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 10/4). About 415,000 participants received flu vaccinations (Bloomberg/Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/4).
The study found that participants who received flu vaccinations had a 27% lower risk for hospitalization and a 48% lower risk for death than those who did not receive vaccinations (Marcotty, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 10/3).
According to lead study author Kristin Nichol, chief of medicine at the medical center, flu vaccinations, which cost about $6 each, are more cost-effective and can save the lives of more elderly adults than tests for cancer, heart disease and blood disorders (Bloomberg/Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/4). She said, "We looked at the data by age, gender and whether they had frequent contacts with the health care system or very few contacts with the health care system. What we found were very clear benefits from vaccination" (Ricks, Long Island Newsday, 10/4). The study is available online.