Higher flu vaccine rates among adults linked to reduced flu risk for seniors

Higher flu vaccine rates among elderly linked to reduced flu risk for seniors
Higher flu vaccine rates among elderly linked to reduced flu risk for seniors | Courtesy of
A recent study shows that when healthy adults receive the flu vaccine, they protect themselves as well as elderly adults living in their communities from higher risks of developing serious health complications due to influenza.

The researchers used samples from over 3 million people throughout the United States during eight different flu seasons. The scientists found that seniors were approximately 21 percent less likely to have a diagnosis of flu-related illnesses if their homes were located in regions where most adults younger than the age of 65 received their vaccinations.

The goal of the observational study was to determine the association of countywide flu vaccination rates among adults between the ages of 18 and 64 with the illnesses found in Medicare beneficiaries 65 years and older from 2002 to 2010. For the counties with 31 percent of its adults receiving vaccinations for the flu, elderly seniors showed a 21 percent decreased chance of developing flu-related diseases.

"Our findings suggest that flu vaccination should be encouraged among low risk adults not just for their own benefit, but also for the benefit of higher risk adults in their community, such as the elderly," Glen B. Taksler of the Cleveland Clinic and author of the study, said. "In round numbers, we estimated that about one in 20 cases of influenza-related illness in the elderly could have been prevented if more non-elderly adults had received the flu vaccine.”

Further details are available in Clinical Infections Diseases.

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