Flu vaccine efficacy: Time to revise public messages?

November 5, 2011
by Robert Roos


For many years, public health personnel have cited the estimate of 70% to 90% when talking about the level of protection afforded by seasonal influenza vaccines. But last week's meta-analysis of flu vaccine studies inThe Lancet Infectious Diseases—along with several other studies in recent years—has raised the question of whether it's time to change the message about flu vaccines.

The meta-analysis produced little or no evidence of 70% to 90% efficacy for most population groups. The investigators used strict criteria to focus on the most reliable studies, selecting only those that used laboratory-confirmed or lab-excluded influenza as outcomes, among other stringent requirements.

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