Gauging the effectiveness of flu shots

March 2009

Published in the March 2009 issue of Today’s Hospitalist

Efficacy in preventing pneumonia and death are only one criterion that should be evaluated when analyzing influenza vaccination strategies. (“How effective are flu shots in elderly patients?” January 2009 Today’s Hospitalist.)

While the elderly may not be afforded a lower risk of pneumonia or death with flu vaccination, their vaccination renders them less likely to contract and spread the virus in the community “a major component of the herd immunity necessary to mitigate against widespread seasonal and pandemic disease.

Moreover, increasing vaccination rates and developing the infrastructure needed to provide inoculations will also apply to pandemic preparedness and could be advocated on that basis alone.

Amesh A. Adalja, MD
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pa.