By Jeanne Lenzer
An independent meta-analysis of vaccines against influenza has found that claims of benefit have been significantly exaggerated.
The report, released last month by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, was based on a comprehensive review of data published from 1967 to 2012.1 Evidence for “consistent high-level protection is elusive,” the researchers concluded.
Although vaccination was found to provide modest protection from infection in young healthy adults who rarely have complications of flu, the authors found that “evidence for protection in adults 65 years of age and older [who represent over 90% of deaths from flu] . . . is lacking.”
The authors also analyzed recommendations issued by the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which provides expert advice to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and which are “often considered the standard of practice . . . around the globe.” The report cited 30 instances in which its advisory statements “did not apply current standards of scientific rigor . . . and did not cite relevant work.”BMJ 2012; 345 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e7856 (Published 19 November 2012) BMJ 2012;345:e7856