Nursing Home Test; ‘Didn’t find’ proof immunization stops virus
Tom Blackwell, National Post Published: Thursday, March 11, 2010
Larry Downing/Reuters Study co-author Dr. Tom Jefferson says he “can’t see any reason” for vaccinating anyone against flu — arguing the shots did nothing to save lives.
A new Canadian-led study has added to a simmering scientific dispute over flu-shot campaigns, concluding that immunizing nursing-home workers does nothing to cut the number of confirmed influenza cases among the homes’ elderly residents.
Coming at the end of the largest flu-vaccination campaign in Canadian history, the review of previous studies calls for stepped-up research into alternative, lower-tech ways to combat the virus, such as improved hand washing.
“What troubled us is that [shots] had no effect on laboratory-confirmed influenza,” said Dr. Roger Thomas of the University of Calgary, lead author of the paper published by the respected Cochrane Library.
“What we were looking for is proof that influenza … is decreased. Didn’t find it. We looked for proof that pneumonia is reduced. Didn’t find it. We looked for proof deaths from pneumonia are reduced. Didn’t find it.”
A prominent flu expert, however, calls the authors’ conclusions misleading, noting that vaccinating workers does, in fact, lessen the amount of influenza-like sickness and the number of deaths from all causes among those nursing-home denizens. That is all that really matters, said Dr. Allison McGeer, infectious disease specialist at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital.
The National Post is now on Facebook. Join our fan community today.