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Flu jabs a 'waste of money'

22nd November 2012

The Department of Health has defended the flu vaccination campaign after research suggested that the benefits of the annual jab were "over-hyped".

Vaccination1

It insisted flu jabs ‘save lives’ and has urged elderly people and patients with long-term conditions to come forward for their vaccinations.

However, US scientists say the vaccine is far less effective than is widely believed, with some studies showing it protects less than two-thirds of the population and governments in Britain and America are wasting taxpayers’ money on it.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota, who looked at 12,000 studies on the effectiveness and safety of the flu jab over several decades, fear the benefits have been over-promoted to such an extent that scientists have not seen the need to invent more effective vaccines.

Health Protection Agency data shows that 61% of the over-65s in the UK have been vaccinated this year, 30% of pregnant women and 37.5% of those with long-term conditions.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “Each year thousands of people die after catching flu and we urge everyone that is in an at-risk group to get the vaccine.”

It said the evidence on the effectiveness of the vaccine is reviewed by the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation, which had undertaken a detailed review of the flu vaccine programme this year.

Douglas Fleming of the Royal College of General Practitioners’ Influenza Monitoring Unit in Birmingham, acknowledged that “no vaccines are perfect” and said that better flu vaccines are needed, particularly as its effectiveness decreases among the elderly.

 

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