Infectious Disease

The benefits of flu vaccination regimes are partially offset by the risk of other respiratory infections

August 13, 2021

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The authors do not report any relevant financial information.

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Mandatory influenza vaccination was linked to a decreased risk of influenza for health workers but an increased risk of other respiratory infections, partially negating the benefits of such measures, researchers reported.

The study was conducted in four Department of Veterans Affairs health systems and three medical centers outside the VA.

Source: Adobe Stock.

Influenza vaccination among health workers has been linked to a decreased risk of influenza but an increased risk of other respiratory viral infections, which researchers say could offset the benefits of a mandatory vaccination policy. Source: Adobe Stock.

According to the authors, previous research has shown that recipients of influenza vaccination report more symptoms of acute respiratory disease caused by non-influenza pathogens than unvaccinated people. Another explanation for the link between influenza vaccination and a risk for other respiratory infections is that vaccinated health workers (HCP) may experience decreased viral interference associated with influenza illness.

Michael S. Simberkoff

“Regardless of the explanation, this finding is a reminder that vaccination along with other control measures, such as Michael S. Simberkoff, MD, an infectious disease specialist with Veterans Affairs New York Harbor Healthcare System and New York University Grossman School of Medicine, and colleagues wrote.

Simberkoff said the study emerged from the larger ResPECT study that compared the effectiveness of N95 masks with medical masks in preventing influenza and other respiratory infections in HCP.

“Our study facilities consisted of four VA facilities that did not require influenza vaccination for HCP and three non-VA facilities that required vaccination,” he said. “We decided to investigate influenza and other infections in the two groups.”

Simberkoff and colleagues analyzed the rates of influenza and other viral causes of respiratory infections among ambulatory physicians in the four VA health systems without mandatory influenza vaccination guidelines and three non-VA health systems with mandatory influenza vaccination guidelines.

Overall, the study showed that influenza vaccination was associated with a reduced risk of influenza (OR = 0.17; 95% CI, 0.13-0.22) but an increased risk of other respiratory viral infections (incidence rate ratio = 1, 26; 95% CI, 1.02.) Was associated with -1.57).

In addition, a fitted regression model found that if influenza vaccination rates in hospitals where no vaccination was required were the same as those where vaccination was required, then influenza infections in HCP fell by 52.1% (95% – KI, 51.3% – 53%) would have been reduced to study.

“I believe that the mandatory flu shot for HCP has advantages,” said Simberkoff. “The takeaway message, however, is that other strategies also need to be used. This definitely includes the wearing of masks and careful hand washing when in close contact with patients with respiratory infections. “

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