Flu shots: Built up and torn down

I know, I know. People are sick and tired of me blogging about flu shots. But, hey, it's my blog and I'll write what I want to - HA! Anyway, here's another chapter in the ongoing saga of the flu shot story arc.

When we last left flu shots, they were being celebrated as not having a shortage. I remember even one source touting that there would a "record" number of flu vaccine available for this year's flu season. So, all is well and good, right?

Apparently not. As fast as our dear friends in the press are talking up the flu shots, the tone this week has changed. According to this article from the Seattle Times, they ask this question, "Is the flu shot benefit overstated?"

The benefits of flu shots for elderly people have been greatly exaggerated, according to researchers at Seattle's Group Health Center for Health Studies and George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
I made reference to questionable data in my previous post. Apparently, these researchers are pointing out questionable benefit data for elderly patients to receive the flu shot.
"We find it peculiar that the claims that influenza vaccination can prevent half — or more — of all winter deaths in elderly people have not been more vigorously debated," wrote Jackson and Dr. Lone Simonsen of George Washington University, the lead author of their report, "Mortality benefits of influenza vaccination of elderly people: an ongoing controversy."
So, in a week or two, the positive spin for flu shots will begin again. And, then the week after that, there will be negative stories again. Sure, this sells papers and gets ratings. But, how are patients supposed to decode all this conflicting and confusing information? That's easy. Make an appointment with your physician to talk about it.