Does the Flu Vaccine Really Protect the Elderly?
March 05, 2005
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Now even the conventional media is echoing my earlier warnings on the flu vaccine. The nation's flu prevention strategy set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been called into serious question.
According to this report, flu shots may prevent far fewer deaths in the elderly than previously thought. The report highlights that although immunization rates in the elderly (people over 65) have increased 50 percent in the past 20 years, there has not be a consequent decline in flu-related deaths.
In regards to these claims, a CDC flu expert criticized the researchers' methods, arguing the conclusion drawn from the study is wrong. He went on to explain that there has been a 50 percent relative reduction in influenza deaths, and that although the vaccine could be improved to provide greater protection, it remains the most effective intervention for reducing influenza-related deaths. To further criticize the study, the CDC member pointed a finger stating the researchers:
- Failed to compare vaccinated seniors with unvaccinated seniors
- Did not account for the overall health status of seniors
- Miscalculated the length of time flu viruses circulate
In defense, researchers stated the findings are based on national flu statistics and that the estimates of deaths prevented by flu vaccination must have been overestimated in the past.
Additionally, though older people have weaker immune systems, the flu vaccine is only 40 percent effective in preventing illness in the elderly, compared to 90 percent effective in younger people. In fact, one researcher believes simply vaccinating at least 70 percent of school-aged children, along with high-risk individuals, could reduce flu transmission to the whole community.
Archives of Internal Medicine February 14, 2005;165(3):265-272
Science Daily February 23, 2005