Flu Vaccine for All:
A Critical Look at the Evidence
NOTE: you need to create a free account to view this source
Does the evidence support the call for universal influenza vaccination?
|Response from Eric A. Biondi, MD, MS
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Pediatric Hospitalist, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York
|Response from C. Andrew Aligne, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Director of The Hoekelman Center, University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry, Rochester, New York
Influenza vaccination is a yearly ritual. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend annual influenza vaccination for all healthy persons 6 months of age or older who are without contraindications.
In an interview published in The Atlantic, Tom Jefferson, head of the Vaccine Field Group at the Cochrane Database Collaboration (the world’s leading producer of evidence-based medical reviews), voiced serious reservations about the data supporting influenza vaccine recommendations, stating that “The vast majority of the studies [are] deeply flawed. Rubbish is not a scientific term, but I think it’s the term that applies.”
A critical look at the evidence raises further questions about the flu shot recommendations. A 2012 Cochrane review examining the efficacy of pediatric influenza vaccination noted that:
…industry-funded studies were published in more prestigious journals and cited more than other studies, independent of methodological quality and size. Studies funded from public sources were significantly less likely to report conclusions favorable to [influenza] vaccines… reliable evidence on influenza vaccines is thin but there is evidence of widespread manipulation of conclusions and spurious notoriety of the studies.
And a 2014 Cochrane review examining use of flu vaccine in healthy adults, including pregnant women, concluded that:
[Influenza] vaccination shows no appreciable effect on working days lost or hospitalization.
Read about the virology of influenza and it’s relationship with vitamin D.