The findings follow claims by US experts last month that vaccinating the elderly against flu was pointless. A review article in The Lancet Infectious Diseases said there was little evidence that vaccinating the over-70s against flu reduced mortality rates (GP, 28 September).
US researchers pooled data collected from 18 cohort studies carried out between 1990-2000.
Each cohort provided data for more than 20,000 people aged 65 and over, accounting for 713,872 people in total. Of these, 415,249 were vaccinated against flu. Over the 10-year duration of the studies, 4,599 people were hospitalised for pneumonia or influenza and 8,796 deaths were recorded.
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.
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