Expert calls for less vaccination and more research

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Friday, October 27, 2006

US navy personnel receiving influenza vaccination.
CDC scientist working on influenza under high bio-safety conditions.

Following fears earlier this month that, in Britain, flu vaccine would not be available for all those due to be vaccinated this autumn, a contributor to the British Medical Journal now wants resources diverted from vaccination towards research to establish the efficacy of vaccination.

There have been warnings that production problems have delayed delivery of sufficient vaccine to complete the programme on time. The Department of Health had said there should be enough doses in the long-term but some patients would have to wait. This is the third year in which this problem has arisen.

Now writing in the British Medical Journal, Tom Jefferson, a coordinator at Cochrane Vaccines Field, Rome, calls for resources to be diverted from vaccinating people to research into the value of vaccination. Criticising the present policy, calling it "availability creep", Mr. Jefferson says that "it uses up resources that could be invested in a proper evaluation of influenza vaccines or on other health interventions of proven effectiveness".

Another paper, of which T. Jefferson is a co-author, accepts that vaccinating the elderly in institutions reduces the complications of influenza and vaccinating healthy persons under 60 reduces cases of influenza.