With the flu season in full swing, a new poll shows that almost three-quarters of Americans over the age of 50 think all nursing home employees should get a flu vaccine every year.
"We've finally gotten to the point in the last few years where most inpatient hospitals require their staff to get vaccinated against the flu, or at least strongly promote it," poll director Dr. Preeti Malani said in a University of Michigan news release.
"These results suggest that other types of care facilities should do the same to protect vulnerable patients -- or potentially risk losing business," Malani added. "I encourage everyone to ask nursing homes and other long-term care facilities about their vaccination policies."
Malani is a professor of internal medicine, with a specialty in infectious diseases and geriatrics, at the University of Michigan's Medical School.
The survey, which was published Jan. 3, was sponsored by the university and AARP. More than 2,000 men and women between the ages of 50 and 80 participated.
More than 60 percent of respondents said that all patients residing in a nursing home and/or an assisted living setting should get vaccinated as well.
And 70 percent said that if they knew that one-third of the staff at a nursing home wasn't vaccinated it would make them less likely to reside there.
Most respondents also said that the flu vaccine should be offered to workers for free, and that those who don't avail themselves of the vaccine should be required to stay at home whenever they get sick.
Many experts advocate a widespread vaccination approach to disease control based on the notion of "herd immunity." The idea is to prevent chinks from developing in the overall vaccination armor.
That said, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that less than seven in 10 long-term care workers routinely get vaccinated against the flu. This is despite its recommendation that everyone over the age of 6 months do so. By comparison, roughly nine in 10 hospital workers get the flu vaccine each year.
There's more on the flu vaccine at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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