Hospitalized patients who received the flu vaccine had no increased risk of outpatient visits or hospital readmission within seven days of discharge, according to a Kaiser Permanente study published Wednesday.
The study, published in the medical journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, also showed that vaccinating hospital patients did not increase the risk of fever or rates of laboratory evaluations for infection.
It also showed that the vast majority of patients who were not vaccinated during their hospital stay remained unvaccinated for the full flu season.
“We know rates of inpatient flu vaccination are low, often due to physician concerns that the vaccine could complicate healing or delay hospital discharge,” said Dr. Sara Y. Tartof of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation, the study’s lead author.
“Our findings demonstrate that not vaccinating patients during a hospitalization may be a missed opportunity,” she said. “Right now, only 28 percent of patients not already vaccinated prior to hospitalization are being vaccinated before they leave the hospital.”
The study builds upon previous research that showed surgical patients who received the flu vaccine during their hospital stay did not have increased risks of complications or delay in discharge compared to surgical patients who were not vaccinated during their stay.
The flu is a highly contagious respiratory infection that can cause serious complications, hospitalizations and, in some cases, even death. Some people — such as older adults, young children and people with certain health conditions — are at high risk for serious complications if they get the flu.
In addition to recommending annual flu vaccination for people ages 6 months and older, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends vaccinations for eligible hospitalized patients.