Questions remain over flu shot's effectiveness

Every flu season, physicians spend lots of energy encouraging patients--especially the medically frail and elderly--to get their annual flu shots. The thing is, it's still not clear how much impact these shots actually have, as study evidence is all over the map. Studies have found varying levels of benefit from flu shots. For example, one study concluded that seasonal flu jabs cut elderly deaths from any cause in half during winter. Meanwhile, another study found no impact on the health of the elderly.

Some studies, like a paper from the October 4, 2007 New England Journal of Medicine, found that flu vaccinations were linked to a 27 percent drop in hospitalization from pneumonia. Others, like one published in the Aug. 2, 2008 issue of Lancet, found no link between flu vaccinations and a reduced risk of community-acquired pneumonia.

Hoping to clarify this issue, the CDC is running several research projects that aim to clarify the flu vaccine's actual impact.

To find out more about this issue:
- read this AMNews article

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