Looks like mainstream needs to get it's stories and studies co-ordinated.
The Lancet version. published this month, argued that the mortality benefits of flu shots for the elderly have been greatly exaggerated because of a subtle bias and other methodologic problems in many of the relevant studies :
"The remaining evidence base is currently insufficient to indicate the magnitude of the mortality benefit, if any, that elderly people derive from the vaccination programme," says the analysis by Lone Simonsen, PhD, of George Washington University in Washington, DC, and colleagues.
The Lancet Infectious Diseases authors offer several reasons for questioning the notion that flu immunization saves lives in the elderly population:
Vaccination coverage among the elderly has increased from 15% to 65% since 1980, but instead of declining, overall mortality due to pneumonia and influenza in elderly people has increased in that period.
Few randomized, placebo-controlled trials have examined flu vaccine effectiveness in elderly people. The largest and best study, done in the Netherlands, showed a 50% reduction in confirmed flu cases among all the volunteers, but the reduction for those older than 70 was only 23%. There was no significant reduction in influenza-like illness.
A number of investigators have reported finding evidence of flu vaccination benefits in the elderly by analyzing the records of large healthcare organizations. But these studies typically are flawed in that investigators looked for an effect on all-cause mortality, a nonspecific outcome, rather than on lab-confirmed flu. Further, many such studies may be marred by a subtle selection bias, wherein relatively healthy older people were more likely to be vaccinated than frail seniors were, thereby making vaccination look more beneficial than it really was. A further problem is that cohort studies typically have defined the flu season arbitrarily as December through March, rather than on the basis of flu surveillance.
Simonsen and colleagues also write that since 1968, flu has accounted for an average of about 5% of all winter deaths in older people. Yet the results of cohort studies have prompted claims that flu vaccination reduces the risk of winter death from any cause by about 50% for community-dwelling people older than 65. "That influenza vaccination can prevent ten times as many deaths as the disease itself causes is not plausible," say Simonsen et al.
Regardless of the figures and interpretations, I contend that strong natural anti-virals and immune boosters are a better choice. I have never had a flu shot and never will - not even for the so-called Avian flu. People who do not take measures to keep their immune system strong and take anti-viral natural supplements like colloidal silver, olive leaf extract, garlic, onion, echinacea, etc. would perhaps be good candidates for a flu shot.