High-dose flu vaccine is cost effective for nursing center residents

Nursing center leaders seeking to reduce hospital transfers may want to consider the type of influenza vaccine they offer their residents, according to research from Brown University. Flu is one of the leading causes of avoidable hospitalizations.

A team led by Drs. Vincent Mor and Stefan Gravenstein randomized more than 800 nursing centers across the country to use one of two FDA-approved flu vaccines, high dose or standard dose. The first paper from this research study showed that fewer residents were hospitalized at nursing centers using the high-dose vaccine. Now additional findings go one step further, to examine the cost benefit of using this more expensive vaccine.

Despite the fact that high-dose vaccine costs nearly $20 more per dose than low-dose vaccine ($31.82 vs. $12.04), the Brown team found a net benefit of $526 per resident offered the high-dose flu vaccine. Medicare benefits most directly, because the savings result from lower healthcare expenditures in this group. But these findings will be important and actionable for nursing centers seeking strategies to improve care delivery and to avoid payment penalties associated with hospital transfers.