Flu Vaccine Linked to Lower Hospitalization Rates in COPD Patients

Jared Kaltwasser
Published Online: Wednesday, February 6th, 2019
Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) who receive a flu vaccine are significantly less likely to be hospitalized with influenza. In addition, patients with COPD who are hospitalized with the flu are more likely to face serious health consequences than those hospitalized for other acute respiratory infections.

The new findings come from a study of more than 4100 patients with COPD whose flu vaccination status was known. It found that vaccinated patients in the cohort were 38% less likely to be hospitalized for the flu than their un-vaccinated counterparts.

The data were collected from 46 Canadian hospitals over 4 winter seasons (2011-2015). The hospitals were part of the Canadian Immunization Research Network Serious Outcomes Surveillance Network.

Other research has shown vaccination lowers hospitalization rates in other groups, such as the elderly, but this was the first of its kind to quantify the impact of vaccination to hospitalizations and mortality.

Within the study population, the crude mortality rate was 9.7% for patients with the flu, versus 7.9% for influenza-negative patients (P = .047). Patients with the flu also needed critical care and required mechanical ventilation at higher rates.

Despite the extra risk the flu can pose to patients with COPD, the study found just 66.5% of patients with COPD were vaccinated against the flu. That’s higher than the overall flu vaccination rates of the general populations in the US and Canada, but it nonetheless means one-third of people with COPD are left unprotected.

This article was originally published by MD Magazine. Visit MdMag.com to view the full article.

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