Transplant programs in the United States have increasingly embraced influenza vaccination guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), researchers concluded.

A team led by W. James Chon, MD, of the University of Chicago Medical Center, compared the findings of two surveys, one conducted in 1999 and another in 2009.

Respondents to the 2009 survey were significantly more likely than those of the 1999 survey to recommend influenza vaccination for kidney transplant recipients (94.5% vs. 84.4%), kidney/pancreas transplant recipients (76.8% vs. 48.5%), and family members of transplant recipients (52.5% vs. 21%), investigators reported in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (2010;5:1637-1641). The 2009 respondents also were more likely to recommend vaccination for medical staff caring for transplant recipients (79.6% vs. 40.7%).

Continue Reading

In addition, the study also revealed that physicians and other members of the transplant team were more likely to have been vaccinated in 2009 compared with 1999 (physicians, 84.2% vs. 62.3%, nonphysicians, 91.2% vs. 50.3%).

“Our study is the first to report a significant change in the attitudes of U.S. transplant programs regarding influenza vaccination,” the authors wrote.

The 1999 survey, which had 15 questions designed to assess influenza vaccination practices, was mailed to 301 caregivers in 217 kidney and kidney/pancreas transplant centers. A total of 167 physicians or their staff members from 142 centers responded. For the 2009 survey, investigators designed a 26-question web-based survey to gather information about post-transplant medical management, including vaccination practices. The first 15 questions were identical to those in the 1999 survey. The researchers invited 426 medical or surgical directors from 239 kidney and kidney/pancreas transplant centers to participate in the survey. A total of 183 physicians or the representatives from 143 centers responded.

Although influenza vaccination is recommended for all immunocompromised patients, including solid organ transplant recipients, the 1999 survey “revealed that the transplant community had not fully embraced the influenza vaccination guidelines recommended by the CDC.”

Dr. Chon and his team noted that it is reassuring that “most survey respondents in 2009 did not report concerns of rejection or other major safety issues with influenza vaccination.”

In both surveys, the most frequently mentioned reason for not giving the influenza vaccine was lack of efficacy (65% and 63.6% in 1999 and 2009, respectively).

The 2009 survey showed that most respondents began post-transplant vaccination in the first six months (41.8% within the first three months and 42.6% in three to six months).