Is it worth vaccinating old people for flu?

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The February 18th Science has an interesting article about Simonsen et al.'s analysis of influenza deaths. Simonsen's work suggests that influenza vaccination may not reduce mortality in old people. I haven't read the full study and so I don't have an informed opinion. Obviously, if we're going to be in the business of rationing flu vaccine it would be nice to know that the right age groups are getting it.

UPDATE: Fixed a broken link. Thanks to Ken Hirsch for pointing this out.

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3 Comments

You misspelled "HREF" on the <a>article</a> tag.

There is a persistent contrarian element in the research community which says that common sense public health measures actually do not produce the improvements in health that we would expect. There's no doubt that health and longevity have increased, and we have certainly introduced a number of public health improvements over the decades, from clean water to vaccinations. But looking past correlation to find causation is very difficult. When you look at details, like whether health improvements correlate regionally with the introduction of various measures, you often draw a blank.

Sorry, I don't have any links handy. It's not my field and I just run across these articles from time to time. But this new one is very much in keeping with the tone of a large body of skeptical literature. Some people think the real reason we are healthier today is that we're paving the world, and dirt makes us sick. This correlates as well as many other supposed causative factors.

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