HealthDay News — Although prior research indicates that patients living in nursing homes may be at an unnecessarily high risk of contracting influenza, only about one in two nursing home workers in the United States receive an annual flu vaccine, according to a study published in the American Journal of Infection Control.
“Although approximately three-quarters (72%) of nursing home residents receive the seasonal influenza vaccine annually, the vaccine offers limited protection in older and immunocompromised patients,” noted Jill D. Daugherty, MPH, PhD, of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and colleagues.
To determine influenza vaccination rates and attitudes toward the vaccine among nursing home employees, the investigators surveyed 1,965 employees in Florida, Georgia, and Wisconsin in 2011 and 2012.
Many nursing home workers have mistaken beliefs about the flu and vaccination, reported the study authors. Nearly 40% incorrectly thought the vaccine could cause the flu. Workers who knew that wasn’t true were 12% more likely to get vaccinated. Those who believed that vaccination was effective were 28% more likely to get vaccinated.
“Vaccination rates would be higher if staff held accurate beliefs about vaccination and influenza,” concluded the researchers.
“Our findings support the need for additional research on the use of incentives and educational strategies targeted at staff.”