Flu Vaccine Works for Older Adults

Now that I am close to becoming a Medicare recipient , I am aware that I will be using a lot more healthcare resources than I did as a healthy young American. Even if I continue in good health, I will still be a great burden to the system. For that reason, I want to know if the resources I am using is money well spent. I was excited to learn that my yearly flu vaccine is worth the investment. A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine “Effectiveness of Influenza Vaccine in the Community-Dwelling Elderly” studies show that vaccination reduces the risk of hospitalization for pneumonia and influenza by 27% and reduces the risk of death from any cause by 48% http://content.nejm.org/cgi/reprint/357/14/1373.pdf

Influenza vaccine does not usually produce the same immune response in an elderly person as in a young adult so I want data to confirm my belief in the effectiveness of my annual influenza vaccination. This study covered 18 cohorts of elderly people in the community for 10 flu seasons. Influenza vaccine has been a covered benefit under Medicare since 1993 however only about 2/3 of the elderly in the community are vaccinated. I hope this article serves to improve that statistic.
I would like the next study to be “Does blogging reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease in the elderly?”


3 Responses to Flu Vaccine Works for Older Adults

  1. mikelove says:

    New blog post: what’s the difference between a cohort study vs a controlled study?


  2. suelove says:

    There are 2 types of study designs, controlled or experimental and uncontrolled or observational. The gold standard is a randomized clinical trial which is a controlled study. In a randomized clinical trial, the experimentor randomly assigns the persons to groups (recieve treatment or not receive treatment for example) and observes the outcome. A cohort study is a form of observational study. In a cohort study the experimenter knows the exposure status (treated or not treated for example) and collects data about the outcome. The problem with a randomized clinical trial is that in many situations it is unethical. For instance in the influenza study, how can one justify randomizing a group of elderly persons not to receive influenza vaccine? Somehow this reminds one of the Tuskegee experiment. If something is thought to be beneficial, how can we withold it to do good science?
    Many of our new drugs cannot be tested using randomized clinical trials because it would be unethical. To test a new drug for smallpox who would like to be in the untreated group???

  3. mike says:

    What should you look for to know if the claimed results are reliable from an observational study?

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