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The Big Bad Flu Data — What You Need to Know About Vaccine Effectiveness and Alternatives

flu vaccine effectiveness

Story at-a-glance -

  • Interim estimates from the CDC suggest the overall adjusted vaccine effectiveness against influenza for the 2017/2018 seasonal flu vaccines is 36 percent
  • While health officials claim flu vaccination will lessen your symptoms should you contract type A or B influenza, French research shows vaccination resulted in insignificant lessening of symptoms — limited to a reduction in initial headache complaints among those who had been vaccinated
  • A 2014 meta-analysis concluded the number needed to treat (NNT) for the influenza vaccine is 71. This means 71 people have to be vaccinated in order for a single case of influenza to be avoided
  • A 2017 meta-review found the NNT for vitamin D is 33, meaning one person is spared from acute respiratory infection for every 33 people taking a vitamin D supplement. For people with severe vitamin D deficiency, the NNT is 4
  • The flu shot may actually make you more susceptible to influenza and other infections — a result linked to heterologous immunity which, while lowering your risk for infection from the vaccine-included virus, also raises your risk of infection from other viral subtypes

By Dr. Mercola

How effective is the flu vaccine, and will getting vaccinated reduce the severity of your illness even if the vaccine is a poor match to circulating influenza virus strains? While public health officials insist vaccination is the best way to prevent the seasonal flu, the evidence calls this assumption into question, and most health care professionals won’t even get the flu shot if it’s voluntary.

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