Study finds flu vaccine helps reduce hospitalizations due to influenza pneumonia

October 13, 2015, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

More than half of hospitalizations due to influenza pneumonia could be prevented by influenza vaccination, according to a study led by investigators at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"We estimated that about 57 percent of -related hospitalization could be prevented through influenza vaccination," said Carlos Grijalva, M.D., MPH, associate professor of Health Policy.

"The finding indicates that influenza vaccines not only prevent the symptoms of influenza, including fever, respiratory symptoms, and body aches, but also more serious complications of influenza, such as pneumonia that requires hospitalization.

"Appreciating these benefits is especially important now," Grijalva adds, "when we have influenza vaccines available and while we're preparing for the upcoming influenza season. This is an excellent time to get vaccinated."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends annual influenza vaccinations for everyone age 6 months or older.

For the study, investigators used data collected in the Etiology of Pneumonia in the Community study, or EPIC, which was sponsored by the CDC to establish the incidence and causes of pneumonia hospitalizations in the United States.

The current study uses data from 2,767 patients age 6 months and older hospitalized with community-acquired pneumonia during three consecutive influenza seasons—in 2010, 2011 and 2012—in Chicago, Memphis, Nashville and Salt Lake City. Approximately 6 percent of these inpatients had laboratory confirmed influenza, and the remaining 94 percent tested free of influenza.

The vaccination histories for these two groups were very different: 29 percent of the influenza-free pneumonia group had a current influenza vaccination, while only 17 percent of the influenza pneumonia group had a current vaccination. (Patient reports of vaccination were confirmed by review of medical records, vaccine registries and other sources.)

The investigators noted that influenza vaccination's effectiveness for preventing pneumonia hospitalization seemed lower for older adults and for patients with immunosuppressive conditions, such as malignancies or HIV infection. They note that higher-dose have been recommended for older adults and have been shown to be more effective than standard dose vaccines; whether these higher-dose vaccines will provide better protection in patients with immunosuppressive conditions is currently under study.

With a focus squarely on hospitalization for community-acquired pneumonia (as opposed to hospital-acquired), the study excluded patients with recent hospitalization, nursing home residents who required help with activities of daily living, and patients with severe immunosuppression. Children younger than 6 months were excluded because they are not eligible for influenza vaccination.

Explore further: Patients with flu-associated pneumonia less likely to have received flu vaccine

Related Stories

Patients with flu-associated pneumonia less likely to have received flu vaccine

October 5, 2015
Among children and adults hospitalized with community-acquired pneumonia, those with influenza-associated pneumonia, compared with those with pneumonia not associated with influenza, had lower odds of having received an influenza ...

Higher dose flu shot decreases hospitalization of older nursing home residents

October 11, 2015
In the largest nursing home study to date on the effect of high dose flu vaccine, researchers found that shots with four times the strength of standard flu shots significantly reduced the risk of being hospitalized during ...

Influenza vaccines provide moderate protection throughout the entire flu season

August 24, 2015
Individuals who received the flu vaccine were protected for up to 6 months post-vaccination, the duration of most flu seasons, according to a study presented at the 2015 International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Study highlights pneumonia hospitalizations among US adults

July 15, 2015
Viruses, not bacteria, are the most commonly detected respiratory pathogens in U.S. adults hospitalized with pneumonia, according to a New England Journal of Medicine study released today and conducted by researchers at Centers ...

Low influenza vaccination rates among nursing home employees put residents at risk, study finds

January 27, 2015
Influenza is associated with as many as 7,300 deaths annually in nursing home residents, but the vaccination rate for nursing home staff is only 54 percent, according to a study in the February issue of the American Journal ...

Flu surveillance suggests an early and severe season

June 1, 2015
Today is the first day of winter, and for many Australians with winter comes influenza.

Recommended for you

Cancer drug helps treat tuberculosis by restoring leaky blood vessels

April 26, 2018
Biomedical engineers have discovered an unlikely potential ally in the global fight against tuberculosis—an FDA-approved drug originally designed to treat cancer.

Molecule may help tame virulent bacteria and prevent infection

April 26, 2018
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in three humans carries Staphylococcus aureus, or "staph," in our noses, and 2 percent of us carry the dreaded methicillin-resistant (MRSA) strain ...

Antibody 'cocktail' can prevent Zika infection but is not effective for treatment of fetuses

April 26, 2018
A "cocktail" of monoclonal antibodies that can prevent Zika virus (ZIKV) infection in primates was not effective for treatment of fetuses, according to a new collaborative study led by a University of Miami Miller School ...

E. coli—are we measuring the wrong thing?

April 25, 2018
A sepsis awareness and management programme has demonstrated overall success in terms of improved sepsis detection, but has led to an increase in the number of E. coli blood stream infection cases presented, calling into ...

Malaria study reveals gene variants linked to risk of disease

April 25, 2018
Many people of African heritage are protected against malaria by inheriting a particular version of a gene, a large-scale study has shown.

Commonly prescribed heartburn drug linked to pneumonia in older adults

April 24, 2018
Researchers at the University of Exeter have found a statistical link between pneumonia in older people and a group of medicines commonly used to neutralise stomach acid in people with heartburn or stomach ulcers. Although ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.