An article in the British Medical Journal highlights questions around the push towards influenza vaccination that happens around this time every year. Some salient points:
- in general, the vaccine is at best 40% effective - and that's only for influenza infection, not for preventing hospitalizations or reducing mortality (there is no difference between vaccinated and unvaccinated folks in the latter cases).
- in children under 2 years old, and in portions of the elderly population, there is no evidence of any kind pertaining to the vaccine's effectiveness (i.e. we just don't know, no one has done the research).
In conclusion, the article suggests that the price of production, distribution, etc... may be a waste of resources and time. My opinion: it would be fantastic if some of that funding went into well-thought-out research on good herbal antiviral standbys - Echinacea, Hyssop, Catnip, Lemon Balm, Licorice for example - and their effects on influenza. All the more important if we consider how freaked out everyone got last year around a vaccine that doesn't seem to help much at all...