SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

Study shows flu shot prevented 13 million illnesses

A study published on Wednesday in the open access journal PLOS ONE indicates that around 13 million illnesses and over 110,000 hospitalizations may have been prevented by the flu vaccine in the last 6 years.

PLOS ONE is an online journal of primary research from all areas of science and employs a combination of peer review and post-publication rating and commenting in order to maximize the impact of every report published.

The United States is the only country with a universal influenza vaccine recommendation. The current guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that everyone over the age of six months should receive an annual dose of the vaccine.

Previous studies have been unable to reliably asses the number of flu cases or hospitalizations prevented by vaccination each year. This recent study was able to look at the data and come up with the numbers.

The researchers calculated the healthcare burden of flu cases that would have occurred in the absence of vaccination. Using this data, the researchers estimated that the flu vaccine averted several million instances of illness and over 110,000 flu-related hospitalizations.

"These results confirm the value of influenza vaccination, but highlight the need for more people to get vaccinated and the imperative for vaccines with greater efficacy, especially in the elderly," Joseph Bresee, senior author of the study, said.