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'U Of M' Report: Flu Shots Not As Effective As Previously Reported

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- There's a misperception that current influenza vaccines are highly effective, which is standing in the way of creating new, more effective vaccines, according to a new report from the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP).

The report, called "The Compelling Need for Game Changing Influenza Vaccines" from the CIDRAP Comprehensive Influenza Vaccine Initiative, says that the current influenza vaccines offer less protection against seasonal influenza than previously reported.

Furthermore, there are innovative influenza vaccines that are currently in investigational research that offer the potential of lasting, broad and potent protection against both seasonal and pandemic influenza. However, "substantial research and policy support is needed to further their development and evaluation."

"We urge people to get their flu shot. The present vaccines are the best interventions available for seasonal influenza," said Michael T. Osterholm, Ph.D., M.P.H., University of Minnesota infectious disease expert and the CCIVI report's lead author. "However, these vaccines do not offer consistent, high-level protection – especially in individuals at risk of medical complications or those aged older than 65 years. Unfortunately, these are the populations where we need the vaccines to work the best. We need new influenza vaccines that work for everyone, most of the time."

WCCO's Steve Murphy Interviews Osterholm


Policy shifts toward a universal recommendation for influenza vaccination are often based on professional judgment and not on sound data, the report found.

The report follows a review of more than 12,000 peer-reviewed publications, documents, transcripts and notes dating back to 1936 as well as interviews and follow up with nearly 100 experts in influenza vaccine research, development and use.

To see the entire report, visit the CIDRAP website.

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