Flu Vaccinated Elderly Patients Have Less Risk of Intensive Care Unit Mortality

Elderly patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) have a lower risk of mortality if they have been influenza vaccinated, according to a study published in Intensive Care Medicine.

In this study, researchers assessed data on 89,818 ICU survivors from the Danish Intensive Care Database data on all elderly (65 and older) patients hospitalized in Danish ICUs from 2005–2015, and subsequently discharged. They linked data from other medical registries, focusing on data regarding seasonal influenza vaccinations. Of the total study population, 39% (n=34,871) were influenza vaccinated, and this group was older, had more chronic diseases, and used more prescription medications than the unvaccinated group. The researchers computed these patients’ one-year risk of hospitalization for myocardial infarction, stroke, heart failure, or pneumonia, as well as their one-year risk of all-cause mortality. They then computed hazard ratios (HRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) using Cox proportional hazards regression.

More Reason to Get Vaccinated

Following data analysis, the results showed that adjusted one-year mortality decreased among the vaccinated patients compared to unvaccinated patients (19.3% versus 18.8%, respectively; adjusted HR, 0.92; 95% CI 0.89 to 0.95). Influenza vaccinated patients also had a decreased risk of stroke (adjusted HR=0.84; 95% CI 0.78 to 0.92), but a minimal, non-significant risk of myocardial infarction (adjusted HR= 0.93; 95% CI 0.83 to 1.03). Moreover, the study found no discernible link between vaccination and subsequent hospitalization for heart failure or pneumonia.

“Every year, 30,000 people are admitted to the intensive care units in Danish hospitals and we know that the first year is critical,” said Christian Fynbo Christiansen, clinical associate professor at Aarhus University Hospital and consultant at Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark in a press release.  “Approximately three out of four survive the hospitalizations and are discharged from hospital. But even among the patients who are discharged, almost one in five die within the first year while many others suffer complications. Our study shows that there are fewer deaths and serious complications among the patients who have been vaccinated against influenza. So, this supports the current recommendation that elderly people should be vaccinated.”

“We can’t say with one hundred per cent certainty that the risk of a stroke and dying is lower solely because of the vaccine,” continued Fynbo Christiansen. “But we can see that the elderly people who have been vaccinated do better in the event of critical illness. This suggests that it would be good if more elderly people received the vaccine. Not least because the vaccine is both safe and inexpensive.”

Source: Intensive Care Medicine, EurekAlert