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Flu Jabs Waste of Time, says Expert

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2006 8:37 am    Post subject: Flu Jabs Waste of Time, says Expert Reply with quote

Those flu jabs could be a waste of time, says expert

By Celia Hall, Medical Editor Telegraph UK 27/10/2006

An expert in infectious disease has called into question the usefulness of the multi-million pound annual flu vaccination campaign.

The programme, which will provide 15.2 million doses to protect against flu this winter, may have little impact on hospital admissions, days off work, absence from school and deaths, he claims.

This year the Government spent 1.5 million on the advertising campaign and the vaccination programme will cost 150 million in England. It offers flu vaccine to anyone over 65 and to people with chest problems and low immunity.

Dr Tom Jefferson, the co-ordinator of the vaccines section of the Cochrane Collaboration – an independent group that reviews research and tests its validity – has analysed the best available evidence that should show the impact of vaccination on the population.

In a report in the British Medical Journal Dr Jefferson says most studies were of poor quality and showed evidence of bias.

"I am interested in the gap between evidence and policy," he said yesterday. "I have looked at the facts. All I can say is that I have not found the evidence."

Dr Jefferson argues that all campaigns must have targets, such as reducing the number of cases and deaths and keeping people working and in school.

Only among people who suffer bronchitis could he find good evidence that flu vaccination was worthwhile.

In infants up to two, vaccination was no better than placebo and in older children there was little evidence of benefit.

Nor could he find enough evidence of benefit among people with chronic chest problems, asthma and cystic fibrosis.

In healthy adults the best evidence was that, on average, flu vaccination of a population would prevent 0.1 per cent of a working day lost.

Combined studies of the elderly showed a variation from no effect to a 60 per cent difference when "all cause mortality" was measured.

"These findings are both counter-intuitive and implausible as other causes of death are far more prevalent in older people," he writes.

He says it is hard to know how effective the vaccine is without better data and because the flu virus changes.

There was also confusion between flu and flu-like illness in the studies and a lack of "accurate and fast surveillance systems that can tell what viruses are circulating".

He adds: "Some surveillance systems report cases of influenza-like illness as influenza without further explanation. This confusion leads to gross overestimation of the impact of influenza, unrealistic expectations of the performance of vaccines, and spurious certainty of our ability to predict viral circulation and impact."

Dr Jefferson says that an "urgent revaluation" of the flu vaccination programme is needed.

Dr Fiona Godlee, the editor of the BMJ, said: "The problem is that the UK has no transparent process for evaluating the effectiveness or cost effectiveness of vaccines.

"The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence would like to take this on. The Government should let it."

Dr David Salisbury, the director of immunisation at the Department of Health, said last night: "Flu vaccine is the best way to protect against influenza, and that is why countries around the world use these vaccines to protect their vulnerable communities.

"Indeed, the World Health Organisation actively encourages countries to raise their coverage of seasonal flu vaccine.

"We know that flu vaccines can give up to 70 to 80 per cent protection against infection."

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2006 5:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I never have, and never will, get a 'flu shot'.
How about you?
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Flu vaccine is not as effective as public health messaging traditionally has claimed, says a new report ( http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/center/mission/articles/ccivi-landing.html ) that suggests overselling of flu shots is getting in the way of developing more effective and longer lasting vaccines.

The world spends enormous sums trying to vaccinate people against influenza every year. In Canada alone spending on flu vaccine programs likely exceed $100 million per year.

What a waste of funds! For what?

There is little incentive for industry to take the risk to develop wholly new flu vaccine approaches. Why bother when you have the gravy train fired up.

"Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend." - Bruce Lee
"Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth." - Buddha
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