Flu vaccine not as effective as thought, new study says

By Lorna Benson, Minnesota Public Radio

St. Paul, Minn. — A new comprehensive analysis of flu studies concludes that most flu vaccines provide only moderate protection against influenza, and in some years barely make a difference at all.

The analysis also suggests that the people who most need protection from flu — children and seniors — may be the least likely to derive benefit from vaccines, long considered important to public health.

University of Minnesota infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm and three other national flu researchers led the research effort. Their findings, published Tuesday in the British medical journal, The Lancet, were gleaned from a review of more than two dozen of the most rigorous flu studies done to date.


The researchers screened thousands of flu studies published since the 1960s and found only a handful that adequately measured the effectiveness of flu vaccine. They say most of the published studies vastly over-estimated the benefits of receiving the vaccine.

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