Are flu shots effective?

We don’t give medical advice here at clearhealthcosts, but we do talk about consumer-smart decisions. So we were interested to see the effectiveness issue engaged:

“For vaccine manufacturers, it’s a bonanza: Influenza shots — given every year, unlike many other vaccines — are a multibillion-dollar global business. But how good are they?” asks Roni Caryn Rabin in The New York Times, in an article in the Science section.

A quick overview of the study the article is based on finds that flu shots  “provide only modest protection for healthy young and middle-age adults, and little if any protection for those 65 and older, who are most likely to succumb to the illness or its complications. Moreover, the report’s authors concluded, federal vaccination recommendations, which have expanded in recent years, are based on inadequate evidence and poorly executed studies.” The study is from scientists at the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. The spokesman, a Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, director of the center, regards himself as a pro-vaccine guy.

Meanwhile, we’re still interested in this question: how much does a flu shot cost? Oh, and there’s this from last season: if you want a free flu shot, what resources are there for you?

That raises another obvious question: if the flu shot is not effective, then why are we all getting them?


Jeanne Pinder

Jeanne Pinder  is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded...