New study shows the flu vaccine may reduce the risk of flu-associated pneumonia.

In this latest study, researchers set out to determine whether flu vaccines can lower the risk of flu-associated hospitalizations for community-acquired pneumonia, a question that – until now – has remained unclear.

To further investigate, Dr. Carlos G. Grijalva – of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, TN – and colleagues conducted an observational study of hospitalizations for community-acquired pneumonia from January 2010-June 2012.

The multi-center study included data from four different sites in the US and included patients 6 months or older with lab-confirmed flu infections and verified vaccination status. In total, 2,767 patients hospitalized for pneumonia were eligible for the study, nearly 162 of whom had lab-confirmed flu.

Of these flu cases, 17% of those with flu-associated pneumonia had been vaccinated. Meanwhile, 29% of the controls (those without flu) who had flu-negative pneumonia had been vaccinated.

The researchers say the estimated effectiveness of the vaccine was 57%, which means the odds of flu vaccination among patients who were hospitalized for flu-associated pneumonia was 57% lower than for patients who did not have the flu but who did have non-flu pneumonia.

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