According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), influenza and invasive pneumococcal disease kill more people in the United States each year than all other vaccine-preventable diseases combined. Influenza and pneumonia combined represent the fifth leading cause of death in the elderly. Residents of nursing homes or other long term care facilities are among the groups at highest risk. Research indicates that during influenza epidemics, mortality rates among nursing home residents often exceed five percent of the nursing home population in the country. To lessen the impact of these infectious diseases, the CDC recommends the influenza and pneumococcal vaccines as the primary way of preventing illness and their complications.
Utah Rule R432-40, Long Term Care Facility Immunizations, requires long term care facilities to have policies and procedures in place to protect vulnerable patients and residents from vaccine-preventable illnesses, specifically influenza and pneumococcal disease. Long term care facilities are required to ensure that before offering the immunization, each resident or the resident’s legal representative receives education regarding the benefits and potential side effects of immunization. The facilities are required to offer immunization against influenza
annually and immunization against pneumococcal disease once, unless medically contraindicated or the
resident or the resident’s legal representative refuses immunization. Long term care facilities include nursing care facilities, small health care facilities, assisted living type I and type II, intermediate care facilities for the mentally retarded, and swing bed units of a general acute care hospital.
The Rule also requires each long term care facility to report to the Utah Department of Health by January 31 of each year the number of residents who have received influenza and pneumococcal immunizations. This information is collected through the Long Term Care Imunization Reporting System and is used to identify facilities with residents who may be at increased risk for severe disease and complications.