In the United States (US), about 50,000 influenza-related deaths occur annually (Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services [CMS], 2014). The most important preventive measure for the influenza virus is for people to obtain the influenza vaccine (Varsha et al., 2014; Uyeki, 2014). Of note, the vaccine is often underutilized; however, the influenza vaccine is recommended as an annual part of preventive care for people who are >6 months of age (United States Government of Health and Human Services, 2015; Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention [CDC], 2016; World Health Organization [WHO], 2016). The under-vaccination of patients with the influenza vaccine is a profound issue, especially in rural communities, which is defined as locations populated by fewer than 50,000 people (United States Census Bureau [U.S. Census Bureau], 2015). In West Virginia, for example, a state where 38% of the population resides in rural areas, people who were insured by Medicare and whose insurance records did not manifest that they received the influenza vaccine, possessed a 170% increased risk of death during the influenza season in comparison to those who did receive the influenza vaccine (Schade & McCombs, 2000). This literature review discusses the increased need for influenza vaccination in rural communities; reviews the 2016-2017 influenza season's guidelines and costs; and in preparation for the 2017-2018 influenza season, the need to overcome barriers that are associated with influenza vaccination.
Keywords: Rural, Influenza, Flu, Flu Shot, Flushot, Influenza Vaccine, Guidelines, Costs
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