Background: Hospitalized elderly patients are at risk for subsequent influenza and pneumococcal disease. Despite this risk, they are often not vaccinated in this setting.
Methods: We reviewed the medical records of a national sample of 107 311 fee-for-service Medicare patients, 65 years or older, discharged from April 1, 1998, through March 31, 1999, with a principal diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction, heart failure, pneumonia, or stroke. We linked patient identifiers to Medicare Part B claims to identify influenza and pneumococcal vaccines paid for before, during, or after hospitalization. The main outcome measures were documentation by chart review or paid claim of influenza or pneumococcal vaccination.
Results: Of the 104 976 patients with a single hospitalization, 35 169 (33.5%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 33.2%-33.8%) received pneumococcal vaccination prior to admission, 444 (0.4%; 95% CI, 0.4%-0.5%) were vaccinated in the hospital, and 1076 (1.0%; 95% CI, 1.0%-1.1%) were vaccinated within 30 days of discharge. In the subgroup of 40 488 patients discharged from October through December, 12 782 (31.6%; 95% CI, 31.1%-32.0%) received influenza vaccination prior to admission, 755 (1.9%; 95% CI, 1.7%-2.0%) were vaccinated in the hospital, and 4302 (10.6%; 95% CI, 10.3%-10.9%) were vaccinated after discharge. Of patients who were unvaccinated prior to admission, 97.3% (95% CI, 97.1%-97.5%) did not receive influenza vaccine and 99.4% (95% CI, 99.3%-99.4%) did not receive pneumococcal vaccine before hospital discharge.
Conclusion: National recommendations for inpatient vaccination against influenza and pneumococcal disease are not being followed for the vast majority of eligible Medicare patients admitted to the hospital.