Impact of Influenza Vaccination in the U.S. Elderly Population

Is the flu vaccine truly beneficial?

Observational studies have suggested that seasonal flu vaccination decreases winter mortality risk from any cause by 50% among the elderly population. Flu vaccination increased among the elderly population (65 and older) from 20% in 1980 to over 65% by 2001. During this time period of higher vaccination percentage, estimates of flu-related deaths also increased.

A team of researchers conducted a study to generate seasonal estimates of nationwide flu-related deaths in the elderly population. They found for people between the ages of 65 and 74, mortality rates during the flu season fell between 1968 and the early 1980s, but then remained constant thereafter. For individuals 85 and older, the mortality rate remained constant throughout. All-cause excess mortality for persons 65 and older never exceeded 10% of total winter deaths.

The researchers concluded that the decline in flu-related deaths among ages 65-74 after 1968 was due to immunity to the emerging virus. The team of researchers could not correlate increasing vaccination coverage with declining death rates in any age group. Since fewer than 10% of all winter deaths were attributable to the flu, they concluded the previous observational studies substantially overestimate vaccination benefit.

To check out a study, click here.

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