Flu vaccine: Too good to be true?

There's a well written, provocative article in the November issue of The Atlantic on influenza vaccination and how the evidence for its effectiveness is overstated. In the article Tom Jefferson, the head of the Vaccines Field at the Cochrane Collaboration, says "For a vaccine to reduce mortality by 50 percent and up to 90 percent in some studies means it has to prevent deaths not just from influenza, but also from falls, fires, heart disease, strokes, and car accidents. That's not a vaccine, that's a miracle." The writers describe how Jefferson has been shunned by the vaccine research community. The article has been branded by some as anti-science and anti-vaccine, but I didn't sense that. I still think the benefits of influenza vaccine outweigh the risks and continue to promote vaccination of healthcare workers, but I don't believe the evidence for effectiveness is strong enough to mandate vaccination.


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