acebauer (acebauer) wrote,


- Study after study has shown that seniors who get their annual flu shots have 50% fewer fatalities than those who don't.

- Wait a second. What proportion of seniors die every year as a result of the flu?

- About 5%.

- Then, what? Flu vaccinations are a miracle cure for everything?

- Looks that way, doesn’t it.

- It’s not possible.

- You’re right. Mike Jackson, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta agrees with you.

- So the studies are wrong?

- No. Just the conclusion.

- Huh?

- Think for a minute. Who gets a flu shot? Someone well enough to get themselves to a doctor’s office. And that's younger, healthier seniors. Older, frailer ones are much less likely to get a shot.

- And older, frail seniors have a significantly larger death rate than younger, healthier ones, to start with.

- Exactly.

- But if you look at the frail elderly, wouldn’t a flu vaccination be beneficial?

- Actually, that’s not so clear. It might. Or it might not. Frail elderly have poorly functioning immune systems. And even with the vaccination, it’s not clear that they can mount a fast enough response to fight off the flu.

- So they shouldn’t get a flu shot?

- More studies need to be done. It may very well help. But then, it might not. You can read an interview with Mike Jackson about it here.

- Why did the people conducting the flu studies mislead the public?

- I'm guessing it was unintentional.

- Innumeracy

- Unfortunately. In a classic form.
Tags: news, science

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