Here's some thought-provoking information to keep in mind when considering getting the flu shot:
- A new study revealed that the flu vaccine prevents type A or type B influenza in only 1.5 out of every 100 vaccinated adults … but the media is reporting this to mean “60 percent effective” – the difference is due to a semantic sleight-of-hand: confusing the meaning of relative vs. absolute risk reduction
- Media reports that the flu vaccine is 60 percent effective does not mean that 60 out of 100 people who get the flu shot will be protected against influenza; separate research shows 100 people must be vaccinated to prevent one case of type A or type B influenza.
- Vaccine-acquired immunity is temporary, which is why even though the influenza viruses included in this season’s flu vaccine are the same viruses that were selected for the 2010-2011 influenza vaccine, the CDC is still recommending you get vaccinated again, even if you got the vaccine last year. The immunity you get by recovering from influenza naturally is qualitatively superior and longer lasting.
- Lifestyle changes will generally be far more effective at preventing type A or type B influenza or other types of flu-like respiratory illnesses than the flu vaccine.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a yearly flu vaccine as "the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses."
This advice applies to everyone 6 months of age and older, and the CDC stresses that you "should get a flu vaccine as soon as [they] are available."
With a promotion this strong, you might assume that getting a flu shot is a "sure thing" to protect you from all flu-like illness this year, but actually it's not.
Not even close.