Hospital Stays Provide Opportunity to Vaccinate High Risk Patients Interview with:

Sara Y. Tartof, PhD, MPH Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation

Dr. Sarah Tartoff

Sara Y. Tartof, PhD, MPH
Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Tartof: The flu is a highly contagious respiratory infection that can cause serious complications, hospitalizations and, in some cases, even death. Some people, such as older adults, young children and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious complications. In addition to recommending annual flu vaccination for people 6 months of age and older, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that hospitalized patients who are eligible receive the flu vaccine before discharge.

Historically, inpatient rates of vaccination have been low. There has been concern among surgeons that vaccinating patients while they are in the hospital can contribute to increased risk of vaccine-related fever or muscle pain, which might be incorrectly attributed to surgical complications. However, there have been no data to support that concern. The objective of this study was to provide clinical evidence that would either substantiate or refute concerns about the safety of perioperative vaccination. What are the main findings?

Dr. Tartof: We found surgical patients who received the flu vaccine during their hospital stay did not have an increased risk of emergency department visits or subsequent hospitalizations in the week following discharge, compared with surgical patients who did not receive the vaccine. In addition, we found that compared with unvaccinated surgical patients, vaccinated surgical patients did not have an increased risk of fever nor did they have an increased number of laboratory tests checking for infection in the week after discharge. What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Tartof: The results of this study fill a gap in available clinical data to inform current vaccine recommendations for surgical inpatients by providing a real-world assessment of the effect of vaccination in the perioperative period. Our study findings show hospital stays are an opportune time to vaccinate patients, particularly those who are older and at high risk of complications due to the flu. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Tartof: We are currently working on a follow-up study to ask a similar question about flu vaccine safety among all inpatients. This will help us generalize our findings to an even larger patient population. Also, we assessed safety in this study, and not vaccine effectiveness. Further research to evaluate whether the immune response to flu vaccine is the same in surgical patients as it is for the general population may be useful. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dr. Tartof: Persons who are hospitalized for surgical procedures are often not targeted for vaccination. However, our data support the rationale for increasing vaccination rates among these patients, and other studies have shown the success of hospital-based vaccination promotion strategies. Together, this evidence base can inform strategies to improve vaccination rates. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Tartof SY, Qian L, Rieg GK, Yu KC, Sy LS, Tseng HF, et al. Safety of Seasonal Influenza Vaccination in Hospitalized Surgical Patients: A Cohort Study. Ann Intern Med. [Epub ahead of print 15 March 2016] doi:10.7326/M15-1667

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

More Medical Research Interviews on

[wysija_form id=”5″]

Dr. Sara Tartof (2016). Hospital Stays Provide Opportunity to Vaccinate High Risk Patients

, ,