Thanks to Foundation Partnership, We Know More about Influenza Vaccines in PALTC

October 17, 2019


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It’s nearly flu season, and everyone in post-acute and long-term care (PALTC) is preparing to keep their residents and staff safe and healthy. They are on high alert for good reason. Statistics from last year’s flu season alone documented 80,000 deaths due to influenza. Knowing which vaccines work best in the PALTC setting is an important research question.

Toward that end, earlier this year the Foundation for PALTC Medicine asked Society members to participate in a large-scale quality improvement study to evaluate the impact of the annual influenza vaccine choice on LTC facility residents’ hospitalization risk for the 2019-2020 influenza season. For each facility recruited, the Foundation received a $100 donation. Society President and Signature HealthCARE Chief Medical Officer Arif Nazir, MD, FACP, CMD, AGSF, recruited all 110 of his company’s facilities to participate, netting $11,000 for the Foundation. Overall, the organization obtained $18,900 in donations from this important program.

“This is win-win-win. This study helps provide an excellent template for implementation research,” Dr. Nazir says. “This is a great initiative, and we need to do more to focus on issues such as this.”

While Dr. Nazir and his team were pleased to support the Foundation by participating in this study, they have been working on efforts to prioritize immunizations for a few years. “It’s good for health care and business alike,” he says. However, in their efforts to determine the best strategy, they found few studies about immunizations specific to PALTC. Pointing to the dearth of research in this setting, Dr. Nazir says, “We struggle in post-acute and long-term care because we don’t have credible studies, and we need more information about providing care at a population health level. We all have personal opinions; but we are responsible for other lives, and we need evidence that we can follow.”

Education is the key, Dr. Nazir says, and studies such as this one help provide sound clinical evidence that translates into practice. At Signature, Dr. Nazir and his team provided a significant amount of “education to help cover the myths and misperceptions” about immunizations. They also stressed the consequence of getting the flu and the importance of vaccines to protect everyone’s health—residents and staff alike. He adds, “We produced a video that was very helpful in getting people on board.”

Dr. Nazir looks forward to participating in more studies in the future. Partnerships with the Foundation such as this flu study help tremendously, he notes, explaining, “We can accomplish more when we collaborate and work together.”

Ed Davidson, a partner at Insight Therapeutics and lead investigator on the flu study, notes, “This partnership with the Foundation is an important way to connect practitioners with research that impacts their care for patients in the PALTC setting.” He observes, “We have a lot of evidence about the safety and efficacy of vaccines, and we need to be able to share this with patients and families and address their questions and concerns.” Dr. Nazi agrees:  “Studies like this provide results that are more likely to make a difference to staff, family members, and others who are looking for evidence they can trust. I can’t think of a downside of being involved.”

To be able to prevent a flu outbreak and avoid emergency room visits and hospitalizations is “huge,” says Dr. Nazir. “Studies that give us good clinical evidence are a real value to post-acute and long-term care and our older adults in general.”

Watch for information about future projects in which you and your facilities can participate. In the meantime, there are always opportunities to support the Foundation. Click here to donate to the Foundation.