Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Shaky evidence for flu vaccination policies

This in the British Medical Journal from a Cochrane Center -- evidence for policies is shaky at best.
BMJ  2006;333:912-915 (28 October), doi:10.1136/bmj.38995.531701.80

Analysis and comment

Public health

Influenza vaccination: policy versus evidence

Tom Jeffersoncoordinator1
1 Cochrane Vaccines Field, Anguillara Sabazia, Roma 00061, Italyjefferson.tom@gmail.com

Summary points

Public policy worldwide recommends the use of inactivated influenza vaccines to prevent seasonal outbreaks
Because viral circulation and antigenic match vary each year and non-randomised studies predominate, systematic reviews of large datasets from several decades provide the best information on vaccine performance
Evidence from systematic reviews shows that inactivated vaccines havelittle or no effect on the effects measured
Most studies are of poor methodological quality and the impact of confounders is high
Little comparative evidence exists on the safety of these vaccines
Reasons for the current gap between policy and evidence are unclear, but given the huge resources involved, a re-evaluation should be urgently undertaken

(A hat tip to @cebmblog)

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