Why everyone over 65 deserves influenza vaccine

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.313.7066.1162 (Published 09 November 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1162
  1. Carolyn Diguiseppi
  1. Senior clinical research fellow Institute of Child Health, London WC1N 1EH

    Government recommendations should reflect the evidence

    In a recent issue of Effectiveness Matters, the NHS Centre for Reviews and Dissemination recommends annual influenza vaccination of everyone aged over 65.1 However, the Department of Health recommends vaccination only of individuals at high medical risk or who are institutionalised.2 Each year in Britain, there are thousands of hospital admissions and deaths due to influenza infection, most in people aged over 65.3 Confronted with this disease burden and with differing recommendations about influenza vaccination, what should doctors do?

    The recommendations in Effectiveness Matters are based on a systematic review of research showing that vaccinating elderly people against influenza is an effective, safe, and cost effective way of reducing influenza related deaths and illness.1 Systematic reviews from the United States and Canada reached similar conclusions.4 5 The evidence they lay before us is clear: annual influenza vaccination of elderly people prevents respiratory illness, pneumonia, hospital admission, and death. Meta-analyses of systematically identified, published cohort studies show that vaccination of institutionalised …

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