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New data concerning the effectiveness of the influenza vaccine

Source Huffington Post

Flu vaccine is not as effective as public health messaging traditionally has claimed, says a new report that suggests overselling of flu shots is getting in the way of developing more effective and longer lasting vaccines.

The project that led to the report was called the CIDRAP Comprehensive Influenza Vaccine Initiative, and it involved mining more than 12,000 documents, articles and meeting transcripts as well as more than 5,700 peer-reviewed vaccine studies published from 1936 through April 2012. The full report can be found here.

In recent years studies by a variety of research groups  have shown that the long-quoted claims that flu shots offered 70 to 90 per cent protection against influenza have been off the mark.

Somewhere in the order of 50 to 60 per cent, in healthy adults, is more accurate, the newer studies suggest. Efficacy rates are lower in the elderly or people in poor health. Vaccine effectiveness in those 65 and older against both influenza A and B was 27% (95% CI, -31% to 59%), and against H3N2 it was 9% (95% CI, -84% to 55%), but both numbers are statistically not significant.

The report suggests that the higher numbers came from old studies done on vaccines that were not formulated the way current shots are. It also suggests that the belief that universal vaccination for flu would be useful and desirable, rather than solid scientific evidence, was what drove decisions to recommend flu shots for all in the U.S. (The study did not look at decisions made in Canada or elsewhere.)

Even the vaccine used in the U.S. during the 2009 pandemic — where there was a perfect match between the virus in the vaccine and the strain infecting people — didn’t offer better protection. Studies cited in the report pegged the U.S. vaccine’s effectiveness at 56 per cent.

A key argument of the report is the fact that the current vaccine that offers moderate protection is actually getting in the way of developing long-lasting flu vaccines that offer more effective protection — vaccines, for example, that might require a shot every five or 10 years. Currently flu shots are reformulated every year to try to keep up with the evolution of flu viruses.

Even though a flu shot is a relatively inexpensive vaccine, manufacturers sell hundreds of millions of doses of them a year. In fact, the report notes that the global market for flu vaccine is estimated at US$2.8 billion — a decent chunk of the estimated US$20 billion annual market for all vaccines combined.

For an interesting article of influenza and the protectiveness of Vitamin D please read On the epidemiology of influenza

2 comments to New data concerning the effectiveness of the influenza vaccine

  • Vaccination Hysteria

    Headlines on the American College of Physicians website claimed that “Influenza is the sixth leading cause of death for older Americans, causing 300,000 hospitalizations and killing 30,000 to 40,000 Americans every year.” [2]

    Those statistics are total BULL.

    The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) compile yearly death rates, and categorize deaths by cause. During the year 2002, the actual number of deaths attributed to influenza was only 753. [3] Almost all of those deaths occurred in people over 75, who already had pre-existing conditions, AND weakened immune systems.

    Accurate statistical analyses are complicated by the fact that the diagnostic codes which classify diseases (known as “ICD codes”) lump flu and pneumonia together in the same section. This is how ACP made their mistake (innocent or not, you make the call).



    During that the same year 3,454 Americans died from malnutrition

    — Thats’s 13 times more people than died from the flu.

    It’s a shame we don’t immunize for malnutrition. [3]


    Flu Vaccine Statistics


    Even more disturbing is a study published last year by Lone Simonsen, Ph.D., and his team at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease at the NIH.
    They concluded that flu shots have had no impact on reducing morbidity from flu complications in people over 65.

    The study demonstrated no changes in death rates between 1980, when only 20 million people got the shot, to recent years when over 80 million did. Thus, flu shots appear to be failing to achieve their major objective: lowering death rates. [4]


    References:

    2.   Should Vaccinations be Required for Health Care Workers? From the July-August ACP Observer 2004
    http://www.acponline.org/journals/news/jul-aug04/vaccinations.htm


    3.   Flu Death Statistics compiled by the CDC
    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr52/nvsr52_13.pdf
    (
    See p.16, towards the bottom)


    4.   Impact of Influenza Vaccination on Seasonal Mortality in the US Elderly Population
    Arch Intern Med 2005 (Feb 14); 165 (3): 265-272
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15710788

  • Wow, 30,000 deaths which actually should be 700 or so? That’s a bit of scare tactics from big pharma. Most chiropractors would agrre that they adjust “sick” people all year around and tend to not get “sick” themselves, atleast that is true for my self.

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