Journal Says Flu Shots Effective A Little More Than Half The Time

Wednesday, October 26th 2011, 10:53 pm
By: News 9

Michael Konopasek, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Just as flu season is approaching we are learning that getting the flu shot may not be as effective in preventing the illness as once believed. A study in the journal Lancet, a general medical journal, found that the vaccine is only effective a little more than half the time.

Doctors say the new study does not determine the effectiveness of this year's flu vaccine. But, if it's anything like the rate over the past 44 years, there is about a 50/50 chance of the vaccine actually working.

It's an experience, or for younger children, an ordeal, that most of us have been through. And, if you expect the shots to be perfect, well, they're not.

"It's a little disappointing," said News 9 medical expert Dr. Mary Ann Bauman. "We'd like it to be higher, but 59 percent is better than zero percent."

The Lancet report looked at 31 studies going back to 1967. It found the vaccine was effective in only 59 percent of adults who received the shot.

"It's a little surprising," said vaccine recipient Scott Young.

Young has his shot for the season, and even knowing the new stat, he says he's happy with his choice.

"I feel like it's worth getting every year," he said. "I just think it's the healthier way to go so you don't spread it at work."

Even with the study's release, medical experts haven't changed their orders.

"Not only do I recommend my patients get it … I get it myself," said Bauman. "My family members get it."

Bauman says a nasal spray works for 83 percent of patients, but it's only available to children. Bauman also says vaccinations will fail because, in preparing them, the medical community is constantly guessing, trying to figure out what the next flu strain will be.

Doctors stress the new study should not be used as an excuse not to get a flu shot.

Bauman says the flu vaccine is usually made in the springtime in order to be ready for the fall season. The doctor also says a flu shot will save lives especially among the young, the elderly and those already battling diseases.

The Oklahoma City-County Health Department offers flu shots to the public Monday through Friday at its location near Kelley and Northeast 23rd Street.