Poll: Nursing homes should require flu shot

(CBS) -- Clinical nurse specialist Paula Anton knows how dangerous the flu can be.

"Most of the patients that we have are chronically ill, so we want them to receive the vaccine. We ask the staff in the hospital to receive the vaccine as well," she says.

Anton works at the University of Michigan where researchers conducted a national poll on the flu vaccine. It shows most older adults want nursing homes and other facilities to require flu shots for staff and patients. Infectious Disease Dr. Preeti Malani says protecting the most vulnerable groups in these places is critical.

"They are the ones that are most likely to have complications including hospitalizations as well as death. We mostly worry about seriously respiratory illnesses and specifically pneumonia," says Dr. Preeti Malani with the University of Michigan.

Flu is ramping up around the country. 36 states including California are now reporting widespread activity.

The CDC says influenza A viruses H3N2 are dominating this season. H3N2 typically causes increased hospitalizations and deaths in older adults and young children and vaccines can be less effective.

"There are some seasons where the vaccine isn't going to be as good as others but it's still important to get a vaccine each year and to plan ahead," Malani says.

Dr. Malani says if you haven't had your vaccine yet it's not too late. Chris Martinez, CBS News, Los Angeles.