"Flu vaccine doing poor job of protecting older people; CDC stands by shots for those over 65"
It turns out this year’s flu shot is doing a startlingly dismal job of protecting older people, the most vulnerable age group.
The vaccine is proving only 9 percent effective in those 65 and older against the harsh strain of the flu that is predominant this season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.
Health officials are baffled as to why this is so. But the findings help explain why so many older people have been hospitalized with the flu this year.
Despite the findings, the CDC stood by its recommendation that everyone over 6 months get flu shots, the elderly included, because some protection is better than none, and because those who are vaccinated and still get sick may suffer less severe symptoms.
“Year in and year out, the vaccine is the best protection we have,” said CDC flu expert Dr. Joseph Bresee.
Overall, across the age groups studied, the vaccine’s effectiveness was found to be a moderate 56 percent, which means those who got a shot have a 56 percent lower chance of winding up at the doctor with the flu. That is somewhat worse than what has been seen in other years.
I can't help but think wonder whether social isolation has anything to do with this. I ultimately did not get vaccinated, as in past years, not really on principle, but on poverty, lack of time, and general cussedness (and I'm not in the anti-vax crusader camp at all). So far -- pace Atrios -- I haven't gotten sick. However, during the time when the flu virus was incubating, I was out in the general population a lot -- in Internet cafes, on the bus, at the university, so I must have been exposed multiple times. I wonder if, to some extent, the vaccination is attempting to compensate for social isolation in elders?