11 Feb Severe Flu Associated with Younger Age, Lack of Vaccination
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?
Dr. Wolfe: The major findings of the study were that at least in our center, there was a significant burden of critical illness due to H1N1 influenza infection. The average age of the patients admitted to the hospital was just 28yrs, consistent with the younger patient age in 2009 when H1N1 emerged. Most critically, we also observed a significantly lower rate of influenza vaccine uptake in patients admitted to the Intensive Care Units at our center.
MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?
Dr. Wolfe: We did not anticipate such a stark difference in the vaccination rate between patients admitted to the ICU versus the regular wards. Although this only represents a single center experience, and so drawing broader conclusions is challenging, this research does hint that influenza vaccination may have a protective effect against the most severe disease.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. Wolfe: Firstly, clinicians need to be cautious about the false negative rates associated with upper respiratory influenza tests, especially ‘rapid-flu’ tests. In our study a number of patients with critical illness had negative rapid-flu tests, before their diagnosis was confirmed with lower respiratory tract samples. Secondly, this report should serve as another reason to continue offering influenza vaccine to our patients, as there appears to be a protective effective against severe influenza disease.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. Wolfe: We will need to verify our data against national data that should be available later in the influenza season. It will also be important for larger teaching hospitals to compare the rates of vaccination in their critically ill patients and see if we can verify the lower vaccination rates.