Influenza Vaccination Reduces Unnecessary Antibiotic Prescriptions

Flu Shots Reduce Antibiotic Use in Ambulatory Care
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A new study led by researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that influenza vaccinations helped avert about 4 percent (1 in 25) of antibiotic prescriptions among outpatients diagnosed with an Acute Respiratory Illness (ARI).

ARI commonly causes outpatient visits and accounts for about 41 percent of antibiotics used in the USA, said these researchers.

This data indicates an annual flu shot may reduce unnecessary antibiotic use and mitigate the risks of antibiotic resistance.

Published on April 23, 2020, this 5-year study, among 37,487 ARI outpatients, 9,659 (26%) were found influenza-positive. 

Overall, 36 percent of ARI and 26 percent of influenza-positive patients were prescribed antibiotics.

The leading ARI syndromes were viral upper respiratory tract infection (47%), pharyngitis (18%), and allergy or asthma (11%). 

After adjusting for potential confounders, the overall Vaccine Effectiveness (VE) against lab-confirmed influenza was 35 percent.

Based on the VE and vaccination coverage, the researchers estimate that vaccination prevented 5.6 percent of all ARI syndromes, and 3.8 percent of antibiotic prescriptions among ARI outpatients.

The authors of the study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases said the findings are consistent with previous research that suggests antibiotics are overprescribed for ARI syndromes for which they are not indicated.

The CDC says ‘everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season with rare exceptions'. Vaccination is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications from influenza.

Flu vaccination offers several important benefits. 

It can reduce flu illnesses, doctors’ visits, and missed work and school due to flu, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. 

Flu vaccines also have been shown to be life-saving in children. In fact, a 2017 study showed that flu vaccination can significantly reduce a child’s risk of dying from influenza.

Different flu vaccines are approved for use in different groups of people. 

There are flu shots approved for use in children as young as 6 months of age and flu shots approved for use in adults 65 years and older. 

Furthermore, influenza vaccinations also are recommended for use in pregnant women and people with certain chronic health conditions, says the CDC.

These researchers did not disclose industry-related conflicts of interest.

Flu shot news published by Precision Vaccinations.