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Study finds
health care workers pose flu threat

Study finds
health care workers pose flu threat

Low flu vaccination rate could pose risks to HIV-positive patients.

Less than half of health care workers get flu shots, which could pose a health risk to patients with compromised immune systems, such as those with HIV disease or cancer, say researchers at Harvard University and the University of California, Los Angeles. According to a survey of more than 1,650 health workers, only 38% were vaccinated against the flu. Vaccination rates were lowest among health aides, African-American health workers, and those under age 50, according to the study, which appears in the February edition of the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

The low vaccination rate increases the likelihood that health workers will contract the flu and transmit it to their patients, health experts say. This is a particular worry for HIV-positive patients and those with suppressed immune systems, like cancer patients and those taking organ-rejection medications, because they're more likely to become infected and to experience severe flu symptoms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that health care workers with direct patient contact be vaccinated against the flu as a priority in preventing spread of the disease. (

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