Flu Vaccines Have Modest Effectiveness in Elderly People

Vaccines against influenza are modestly effective for elderly people in long-term care facilities, but for those in the community their effectiveness is even less, according to a study published by The Lancet.

In 2000, 40 of the 51 developed countries or rapidly developing countries recommended vaccination for all individuals aged 6065 or older. Tom Jefferson, of Cochrane Vaccine Field in Rome, and colleagues identified and assessed 64 comparative studies of the effectiveness of influenza vaccines in individuals aged 65 years or older.

Combining data from 15 studies, they found that in elderly individuals living in the community, inactivated influenza vaccines were not effective against influenza-like illnesses, influenza, or pneumonia but prevented up to 30 percent of hospitalizations for pneumonia.

Combining data from 29 studies, they found that in elderly individuals in long-term care facilities, inactivated influenza vaccines prevented up to 42 percent of deaths caused by influenza and pneumonia. Jefferson concludes, We need a more comprehensive and perhaps more effective strategy in controlling acute respiratory infections, relying on several preventive interventions that take into account the multi-agent nature of infectious respiratory disease and its context (such as personal hygiene, provision of electricity and adequate food, water and sanitation).

Source: The Lancet