Flu Vaccines and Tamiflu: We are exposed and our health is in jeopardy.
A topic we’ve covered often in the past has been the limited effectiveness of influenza vaccines among the elderly ( =65) (see Flu Shots And The Elderly, NFID: The Challenges Of Influenza In Older Adults, BMC Infectious Diseases: Waning Flu Vaccine Protection In the Elderly) or those with compromised or suppressed immune systems. Those populations most endangered by influenza are, unfortunately, the least likely to be protected by the flu vaccine.
That isn’t to say the flu vaccine is worthless, or not worth bothering with. (almost!)
I get the flu shot every year, and I encouraged my Dad to get one until he died at the age of 87, even knowing its limitations. When dealing with a potentially life threatening illness . . . some protection beats no protection, any day of the week.
But, like seat belts, flu shots can only offer so much protection. For healthy adults under the age of 65, flu shots are generally described as being moderately effective. In October of 2011, in CIDRAP: A Comprehensive Flu Vaccine Effectiveness Meta-Analysis, we saw a major review indicating the TIV (Trivalent Influenza Vaccine) - during 8 of 12 flu seasons (67%) – produced a combined efficacy of only 59% among healthy adults (aged 18–65 years).
They found the protective effects of the flu vaccine could vary considerably from one season to the next, as well as among different age groups.
In another new study..
By using confounding-reducing techniques with 15 years of provincial-level data including vaccination and health outcomes, we estimated that influenza vaccination prevented ~4% of influenza-associated hospitalizations and deaths occurring after hospitalizations among older adults in Ontario...contd...