Flu vaccine highly effective for elderly

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Oct. 22, 2007

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Elderly people who were vaccinated against the flu were less likely to die or be hospitalized for pneumonia or influenza, according to a large study in the Oct. 4 New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers examined records for 10 consecutive flu seasons for members of three HMOs who were 65 and older, or more than 700,000 people. About 400,000 had been vaccinated, and 300,000 had not. For those who had been vaccinated, the risk of death declined 48%, and hospitalizations declined by 27%.

Since most deaths and severe illness from the flu occur among the elderly, the researchers urged physicians and other health care providers to renew efforts to vaccinate this high-risk group.

Meanwhile, manufacturers have begun turning out the biggest supply of flu vaccine ever -- 132 million doses -- for the upcoming season.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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