Flu jabs for the elderly 'not working'

Vaccinating elderly patients against influenza does not reduce the number of hospital admissions for respiratory disease, UK research suggests.

Influenza vaccination is currently recommended for all elderly people aged 65 and over in the UK.

For this latest study, the researchers assessed the effect of routine influenza vaccine in preventing emergency respiratory admissions among a cohort of 3,970 people, aged 65-89, presenting with acute respiratory illness during the winter 2003-04.

Despite adjusting for age, sex, other chronic conditions and smoking status, the influenza vaccine was still found to have no effect on reducing hospital admissions for respiratory disease.

The researchers warn, however, that the findings do not negate the need for influenza vaccine.

Instead, the findings suggest that solely relying on the influenza vaccine is not an effective strategy for reducing annual winter bed pressures in hospitals.

Earlier this month US research published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that vaccinating the elderly against flu could almost halve the risk of death.

Influenza vaccination was found to reduce the risk of death by 48 per cent and cut the risk of hospitalisation for pneumonia or influenza by 27 per cent.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com


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