Sunday, March 16, 2014

Who's next?

This writer has long wondered if mandating annual flu vaccine for HCW's was just a start. This article from the CDC may be dropping hints of what group may be the next target (real estate and hospitality industries).

The article (dated 3.14.2014) looks back to the 2009 - 2010 flu season and estimates rates of illness and flu vaccine coverage by taking telephone samples and "adjusting" numbers - how any of this could be verified for accuracy is anyone's guess. The response rates were low, just over 1/3 of those called (~6,000/month - and even these targets were approximate) took part in the survey, further calling into question the veracity of the results.

Influenza like illness was defined as " having been sick with fever and cough or sore throat in the past month" ... which could be influenza/ILI/or just about anything else. 

Contradictions abound in the following paragraph, quoted from the article:
Among all adults, employed persons had a similar prevalence of ILI in the month before the interview (5.5%) compared with those not in the labor force (6.0%); these groups also had similar pH1N1 vaccination coverage (23.7% versus 26.5%) (Table 3). In contrast, ILI prevalence was higher (9.4%) and pH1N1 vaccination coverage was lower (16.7%) among unemployed adults in the labor force.
 "Unemployed adults in the labor force" must be the same group that counts as part of the official unemployment statistic, whereas if you are unemployed but no longer looking you do not count as being unemployed (officially) - clearly a factor in differentiating risk of flu. Those "not in the labor force" are defined as "homemakers, students, retirees, and adults unable to work", a rather broad, and diverse, group by any standards, which could also affect accuracy of the "estimates". How many students work in addition to going to school? How many women who at home would like to once again, be informed, that they are not really working! Adults "unable to work" = disabled, a group that might well be at increased risk for a variety of illnesses, including flu/ILI!

The authors do at least acknowledge these weaknesses in the editorial section of the write up, but this could hardly be considered data upon which to base policy decisions of any kind.

When it comes to vaccinations, let people make up their own minds.


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