Influenza, or flu, is a viral infection that mainly affects the respiratory system and can cause mild illness in most people. It can cause severe illness and even death among vulnerable groups including older people, pregnant women and people with an underlying health condition.
In the UK the annual flu season runs from about October to March and most cases of flu occur between December and March. Studies have shown that vaccination can reduce the risk of flu related hospitalisation although, the effectiveness of the vaccine can vary year on year. The annual flu vaccination cycle runs mainly during October and November.
A lot of vulnerable adults spend considerable amount of time in hospital during the annual vaccination cycle and often miss their GP’s flu clinics. At present there is no provision to provide vaccination to patients admitted in hospitals.
In this report we look specifically at patients 65 years and over who were discharged from hospital during the annual vaccination period of October and November and got admitted on a later date with primary diagnosis of flu, 14 days after they were first discharged during that period. It usually takes 10 to 14 days for the flu vaccine to take effect. If there was a provision to vaccinate older people at time of discharge could it potentially reduce the number of admissions, improve hospital bed availability and most importantly could it potentially prevent deaths caused by flu?