Flu Expert: ?Public Should Continue to Get Flu Shot?

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Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, explains why it is important to get the flu vaccine, but says it's "not the magic bullet we have often been led to believe it was."



"Flu Expert: ?Public Should Continue to Get Flu Shot?." A, correspondent. . NBCUniversal Media. 21 Feb. 2013. NBC Learn. Web. 12 August 2017.


A, A. (Reporter), & N, N. (Anchor). (2013, February 21). Flu Expert: ?Public Should Continue to Get Flu Shot?. . Retrieved from https://archives.nbclearn.com/portal/site/k-12/browse/?cuecard=63297


"Flu Expert: ?Public Should Continue to Get Flu Shot?" , New York, NY: NBC Universal, 02/21/2013. Accessed Sat Aug 12 2017 from NBC Learn: https://archives.nbclearn.com/portal/site/k-12/browse/?cuecard=63297


Flu Expert Public Should Continue to Get Flu Shot

DR. MICHAEL OSTERHOLM: This year, over ninety percent of the deaths in individuals with influenza were in those sixty-five years of age and older. Yet, we saw that this year non-significant protection, meaning we couldn’t demonstrate protection against the major strain of flu that caused those deaths with this vaccine. That’s a real disconnect.

We’re actually in a period right now where the science of influenza vaccines is growing quite rapidly, and it now is replacing what in many cases was really dogma about how well the vaccine work and what’s going to be important over the next months, we actually fairly characterize what we know about influenza vaccine, that we continue to use it but not promote it with the idea that it’s going to do something it can’t.

There are a lot of people who have invested a great deal of their professional livelihood into promoting influenza vaccines with statements that were rather just straightforward and quite specific about how well the vaccine worked. We’re now challenging those, not because we want to ideologically challenge them, it’s that the data shows us that we can’t be so dogmatic.

Over the past decade, the public health community has heavily promoted influenza vaccine with the idea that that would be the answer that more people vaccinated would prevent influenza. Now, as we have improved in the science of our studies of influenza vaccine, we know that that’s not the case.

A study that we completed and published in October of last year demonstrated that the actual over-promotion of the effectiveness of the influenza vaccine was the number one deterrent to getting the kinds of resources and investment into the influenza vaccine era to give us the new vaccines that we need.

The people who invest in early start up companies that have novel technologies that’s true for all of medicine, and the one area that they absolutely restrain away from was influenza vaccine because they’ve concluded, and I think rightfully so, that public health had told them, we don’t need new and better vaccines, we just need to get more vaccine, the kinds of one we have now in people’s arms.

The public should continue to get their flu shot. We believe that it’s the most effective tool we have while not as effective as we wanted, it’s the most effective tool that we have. But public health also has a responsibility to be very frank and honest about how well these vaccines are working and not continue this over-promotion of what we have done in the past. That is the number one reason why we today do not have the investments in the modern flu research that will give us the vaccines of the future.