Have you had your ]]>flu vaccine]]> this year? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that just about everyone should get the flu vaccine. They strongly recommend the vaccine for anyone over 65 years old and under 4 years old, or anyone with a chronic medical condition. The flu vaccine can save lives and prevent suffering from a common, and sometimes serious, infection.

In a study published in the October 2007 New England Journal of Medicine , researchers reviewed hospital records from 1990-2000 of patients over 65 years old in the United States. They compared what happened to patients who were vaccinated with the flu vaccine and those who were not. They found that patients who received the flu vaccine were less likely to be hospitalized or die from complications related to influenza infection.

About the Study

Researchers reviewed hospital records from different healthcare organizations throughout the United States over a 10-year period between 1990 and 2000. The study included the records of about 300,000 unvaccinated and 400,000 vaccinated patients over 65 years old. Interestingly the vaccinated patients had more chronic illnesses that would put them at risk for serious health problems.

Since being in the hospital is usually a sign that someone is seriously ill, the researchers focused on finding patients who had been hospitalized. Of those who were hospitalized, they narrowed the focus to patients who had ]]>pneumonia]]> (a serious lung infection) or ]]>influenza]]> . Finally, they looked at how many people with these diagnoses died. Those patients who received the flu vaccine had a decreased risk of almost 30% for pneumonia- or influenza-related hospitalization, and an almost 50% reduction in the risk of death.

How Does This Affect You?

No one wants to have a serious illness. No one wants to be in the hospital. If you are over 65, the flu vaccine may help reduce your risk of being in the hospital with pneumonia or influenza infection. It may also reduce your risk of death from these infections. The CDC recommends the influenza vaccine for most people in the United States. If you or your loved one is over 65 find out more about the vaccine from your healthcare provider or local pharmacy.