Firm evidence of effectiveness in elderly is limited
By: Evra Taylor Levy and Eddy Long
02 November 2010
MONTREAL – With flu shot campaigns in full gear and the flu season soon approaching, consider for a moment the large investment that public health agencies make around the globe to ensure that the elderly get vaccinated against the influenza virus. It is touted as the major weapon in the prevention of serious flu-related illness, so you would think that the evidence supporting the benefits of this vaccine would be pretty solid, right? What we actually know about how well the flu vaccine works might surprise you. This edition of HealthWatch takes a shot at clarifying the evidence.
How common is the flu?
The scourge of Canadian winters known as seasonal influenza, or the flu, is a common, contagious infection of the airways and lungs. In Canada, flu season can begin as early as November but is most severe in the late winter and spring.
On average, 15 per cent of the population gets hit by the flu, and about 20,000 Canadians are hospitalized every year because of its complications; and as many as 4,000 Canadians die annually as a result.
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