CDC: Flu Vaccine Virtually Ineffective For Those Over 65

After all that public health nagging about getting a flu shot, it turns out this year’s vaccine was not only just 56% effective against the virus for those over 6 months old, according to the CDC, but it was virtually ineffective for folks over 65, a particularly vulnerable population.
flu shot

USA Today reports on today’s CDC’s update:

This season’s flu vaccine was almost completely ineffective in people 65 and older, which could explain why rates of hospitalization and death have been some of the highest ever recorded for that age group, according to early estimates released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For people under 65, getting vaccinated this season reduced the need to go to the doctor for the flu by one-half to two-thirds.

For those 65 and older, though, it helped in just 9% of cases, a number too low to be statistically significant, according to a report in the CDC’s Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report released Thursday. The study was based on a survey of 2,697 children and adults by the U.S. Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Network from Dec. 3, 2012, through Jan. 19, 2013.

While this year’s flu season has been moderately severe for the general population, “in people over 65 we’re seeing a pretty severe year,” said Joe Bresee, chief of the epidemiology and prevention branch in the CDC’s influenza division.

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  • Cabanator

    Is there something about this year’s vaccine that made it particularly ineffective for the elderly, or is the vaccine generally not very effective in elderly patients?

    • 1droidfan

      Its generally not effective for anybody as far as prevention goes, only 1 out of every 33 people generates enough of an immune response to the vaccine to make you immune. But it does tend to shorten the duration and severity. The way they measure the effectiveness is if you required medical attention. This flu was particularly severe symptom wise, so even a shorter, less intense version of it send pretty much every elderly person to the doctor. Ive had the flu both when vaccinated and when not, and the difference is being horribly sick for 2-3 days or for 7-10.