Study: Flu Shots Are Only About 59% Effective In Adults

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If you’re somebody who likes medicine to be perfect, you are not going to be happy by a report in the journal The Lancet. The report looked at flu vaccine and finds it’s only about 59-percent effective in adults who receive the shot.

The report is based on 31 studies going way back to 1967. The study also found that the newer nasal spray, which is used in children six months to seven years of age, works about 83-percent of the time.

So where does this leave all of us with the flu vaccine? My suggestion is to still get it because it does provide protection.

In addition to that, you need to realize that what they try to do with these vaccines is guess what flu strains will be attacking. They don’t know in advance which ones are coming, so they just try to predict it with the best information they have. Critics of the flu vaccine say we have to do better in the future.

Reported by Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor, KYW Newsradio 1060

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  • Jack

    Isn’t the flu virus grown in chicken eggs? I’m not the most medically inclined but this seems kind of archaic considering what lives in chicken eggs. Is it even possible to sterilize what ever might be transferred into the flu vaccine without destroying the vaccine itself? Or do they not worry about sterilization. Just wondering there seems to be a decent debate over this vaccine, you would think the medical community would be a little more forthcoming with information on the processing of this vaccine.

    • Jack

      Sorry, I meant isn’t the flu vaccine grown in chicken eggs.

  • Brett

    Flu shots are a waste and should only be CONSIDERED if you are in an extreme high risk group.

    That other absolutely asinine vaccination is the Chicken Pox vac… Why?

    • Susan

      Many people have also caught Down Syndrome after a vaccination…

      Even adults getting booster shots at age 40 have sometimes been transmogrified…

  • Rusty Shakelford

    Do you Kool Aid drinkers actually think there is such a thing as the Flu season? Why would a virus care what time of the year it is? I’ll give you a hint….it doesn’t.

    The only reason there is a “Flu Season” is because of the vaccinations themselves causing the very sickness they are “designed” to prevent. All the while boosting Q4 sales and profits.

    Most people freak out when they are around a sick person. I do not. Reason? Natural exposure builds a healthy immune system. Not these DNA altered vaccines filled with a deadly coctail of adjuvants (heavy metals) and chemicals that are injected directly into your bloodstream. In a natural world, a foreign body must enter through one of your mucous membranes. Your immune system starts right at the point of entry. A huge majority of the time, your body deals with an intruder without you ever knowing you were exposed to it. Meanwhile it has created natural antibodies and your immune system becomes stronger.

    A smart person would invest money in big Pharma and refuse their “helpful” vaccines.

    • Kuerno

      Interesting Rusty and there might be something to that but I beleive Vitamin D comes into play. Once the weather cools and we start really cutting back our sun exposure due to the cooler Fall and Winter months invariably people start getting sick.

      Now that I have begun supplementing Vit ‘D’ in the winter I don’t get sick nearly as bad or often as I used to and no where near as sick as I got within a day of my last flu-shot over 10 years ago.

  • SerfCityHereWeCome

    I don’t believe I can think of 3 people I know who got the shot and didn’t get the flu BECAUSE of it.

  • badmedicine

    My parents get sick every winter after getting the flu shot. I haven’t had the flu since I was a child and I’ve never received a flu shot. That’s anecdotal, but I believe it should be a choice. My parents are forced to get the flu shot every year by Medicare. I bet if they could choose not to, they wouldn’t get the flu every year. It’s pretty hard on them because of their age. That isn’t right.

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  • Regulas

    I don’t trust my government one tiny bit. Who knows what they have in these shots, just saying.

  • Pat Dissent

    So doctors are urging us to take medicine which – provably! – will fail 40% of the time. So then tell me – would you get on an airline flight that had a 40% chance of crashing? How about crossing an intersection on foot that had a 40% accident rate? Would you ride in a car that had airbags that wouldn’t deploy 40% of the time?

    Nobody to be taken seriously would suggest you do ANYTHING with a 40% failure rate.

    • mobildata

      Well if airline travel had a 40% sucess rate the airlines would still urge you to get on their planes.

      The reality is that doctors and pharma corporations make money when w are sick, not healthy.

      • Dawn Diege

        They make money on every flu shot, not to mention the federal excise tax on each dose. Then they make money on the 41% that still got the flu anyway. Best of all, they make money on a much larger percentage of recipients that contracts whatever freaky, lab manufactured disease is lurking in those shots. I know, now you think I’m a whackadoodle. Don’t care, I’m not getting one, EVER!

    • Angus Dorbie

      That is an attrociaous analogy. A better one is seatbelts. Seatbelts are not 100% effective, but they save a lot of lives. People are advised to wear seatbelts and in fact it has become mandatory in many places. You can choose not to wear a seatbely but it’s clearly a bad idea and arguing against their use because they don’t guarantee that you will survive a crash is idiotic.

      • Angus Dorbie

        ugh, typos “atrocious”

  • obvious shill

    And the anti-vaccine loons come out in force.

    Aren’t y’all afraid to use the internet? After all the guv’ment and big-Telecom broadband might warp your brainwave patterns and give you gingivitus.

    • mobildata

      @OBVIOUS SHILL: Yes, I see

    • Angus Dorbie

      Sadly yes, the only time the anti-vaxers glom onto a study is when they perceive support for their silly arguments. In fact what this shows is that these vaccines are 59% effective, that’s a pretty good result for a preventive medicine. Imagine the millions getting vaccinated and the millions protected who will not get il and the tens of thousands of lives saved each year. Further consider the attenuated symptoms for those who get sick and are spared days of misery.

      • Tim

        There have been years when the flu vaccine was 100% ineffective, because they “missed” the projected virus. That means that NO ONE got a flu shot that year, but the number of people getting the flu and the number of deaths was statistically LOWER than in the years that they supposedly get it right. Trusting big pharma on this is EXACTLY the same as trusting the cigarette companies in 1970.

  • James Ridge

    Flu vaccine revenue, however, makes it into the pharmaceutical companies’ bank accounts a staggering 100% of the time.

    • SerfCityHereWeCome

      But with almost 100% of banks failed or about to and the FDIC ridiculously insolvent, what good would it do them?

    • Angus Dorbie

      Nobody is robbing you, you have to actively go ask for and get the flu shot and you’ll contract flu a heck of a lot less often and less severely than those who don’t.

      When you’re killed in a car crash the seatbelt maker still got paid and there are thousands of people alive and without a disfigured face because they wore a seatbelt. Only a fool would blame the seatbelt makers for the times it is not effective while ignoring the lives they save, merely because the seatbelt manufacturer gets paid for the protection they provide.

    • Frank

      Exactly. Glad to see so many people are waking up! This “doctor” didn’t mention anything about the mercury that is STILL in most flu vax. Also, the Lancet is a known propaganda rag for Big Pharma. The highly respected Cochrane Library did the most extensive study on the flu vax to date and concluded it’s worthless, except to line the pockets of Big Pharma:

      A remarkable study published in the Cochrane Library found no evidence of benefit for influenza vaccinations and also noted that the vast majority of trials were inadequate.

      The authors stated that the only ones showing benefit were industry-funded. They also pointed out that the industry-funded studies were more likely to be published in the most prestigious journals…and one more thing: They found cases of severe harm caused by the vaccines, in spite of inadequate reporting of adverse effects.

      The study, “Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy adults”, is damning of the entire pharmaceutical industry and its minions, the drug testing industry and the medical system that relies on them.

      In the usual manner of understatement, the authors concluded:
      The results of this review seem to discourage the utilization of vaccination against influenza in healthy adults as a routine public health measure. As healthy adults have a low risk of complications due to respiratory disease, the use of the vaccine may be only advised as an individual protection measure against symptoms in specific cases.

  • Daniel

    I get the flu every single year for at least 20 years, except for 2006, 2009, and 2010, the only 3 years I got the flu shot. I was always against flu shots, but now I’m a believer.

    • Regulas

      Just the opposite her buddy.

  • rdx

    This is total BS. Nobody wants anything to do with this. Why? Nobody trusts the government to do anything right. The hell with their flu vaccine.

  • robynheud

    I would like to know what this percentage really means. Does it mean that 59% of the adults who get the flu shot don’t get the flu? As usual, these numbers don’t mean much of anything without the details of how they acquired their information or what it’s supposed to represent.

    • Pat Dissent


      It means your money is wasted 41% of the time. It means even if you get the shot, you have (roughly) a 4 in 10 chance of getting the Flu anyway. It means even with a flu shot you have slightly better than 50/50 odds of not catching the flu.

      The reality is when you get a flu shot, you are taking a big gamble someone guessed right and you will actually have protection from the flu.

  • Ned

    A small biotech company has a drug heading into FDA approval that works 100x better than the current drugs. Its name is Nanoviricides, and its drug kills all forms of the flu… even H1N1, and other higher forms. Check out the news on it, its stock symbol is NNVC.

    • Steve Miszkiewicz

      what a idiot, and yes he is and idiot. Iam a family doc and i dont rec flu shots. The logic or lack of astounds me, “it provides protection?” what the heck how does somenthing that is a 50/50 thing provide protection?? what a world

  • BobO

    It would have been nice if they would at least have included the name of the study with researchers’ names so that we could find the article ourselves. Sheesh – great reporting!

    This article means nothing with actual supporting facts. Are we just supposed to take this guy’s word for it because has has a “Dr.” before his name?

  • alianes

    I dont take the shots anymore, and have found no difference in my health during flu season. Not one of my friends/family believe in taking the gov’t shots.

  • Mr. Common Sense

    In other words you have a 10% imnprovement at the cost of injecting your body with all kinds of unknowns …. Fools

  • GWB

    If you’re somebody who thinks news articles should be well-written, you are not going to be happy by this story.

    Have you folks ever heard of editors?

  • jjdoggie84

    What about vitamin D3? It’s way more effective than the BS shot… BTW I never had the flu, EVER!!!!

  • Concerned

    ….and also studies have shown the flu shot is causing a surge in autism, giving the flu shot to a pregnant women is the same as her having the flu, and weeks after the baby is born the baby is injected with more diseases, what could be wrong with this? Keep vaccinating fools.

    • Angus Dorbie

      There are no studies showing a link to autism, and the alleged mechanism of action (Thimerorol) was removed to allay fears and had NO EFFECT on autism rates proving the fearmongers wrong, but that didn’t stop the lies. Numerous studies now have shown no link to autism rates. Even Wakefield’soriginal MMR study is now discredited and retracted and he was disbarred for his unethical conduct and conflicts of interest. Stop repeating the same disinformation that scares parents from vaccinations and results in dead children.

      • Erin S.

        Wakefield was discredited by a “reporter?. Odd that a doctor can be discredited by a reporter, IMO. Additionally, there have been two studies that duplicated Wakefields findings. BTW…Wakefield was not a Lawyer, therefore he didn’t get disbarred. LOL What dead children are ore you referring to? The vaccinated children in SoCal last year who all got pertussis? 80% of children who got th Whopping Cough were innoculated for it. If you are going to argue a point, it would be helpful to have your facts in order. BTW…please direct me to th numreous studies showing NO link to autism rates. I can direct you to the Vaccine Injury Fund paying parents for kids who became “autistic like” upon receiving vaccines.

      • Frank

        Thimerorol?!! ROTFLMAO! You are such an maroon. Pathetic. Why don’t you try educating yourself on the topic before you come here and make an utter fool of yourself.

  • Mark

    I don’t know about “big pharma” or whatever, but I can tell you this: I stopped taking flu shots about 15 years ago, and haven’t gotten the flu since. My kids have never had a flu shot, and neither of them has ever had the flu. My wife doesn’t take the shots either, and she never gets the flu. I’m no scientist, but I can do the math on that…..

    • Shells

      Your anecdote does not statistics make. Every year I’ve skipped or forgotten a flu shot, I’ve gotten the flu. That doesn’t prove anything either.

      Everyone’s risk and habits are different. If you don’t live around thousands of people all the time, or you’re an obsessive hand-washer, or you have a strong immune system, you might not need a shot. Some people do. It’s all about your risk factors, your health situation, and your preference. The shots do significantly reduce your risk of getting sick, and do reduce your symptoms if you do get sick. Based on those factors and facts, you have to make a call.

  • shoptalk

    “Never the less” ?

    Really, CBS?

    • Rick

      Was about to say the same thing.

      Sloppy sloppy sloppy…

  • Dennis

    What about the studies linking flu vaccination to Alzheimer’s ? Guess that’s of no concern, huh?

  • Chili Boots

    Vaccines are ineffective, at best,
    and deadly, at worst. Avoid this
    Big Pharma and Government scam,
    if you value your Health.

    • Shells

      You went to medical school where, exactly? Reading half-baked conspiracy theories on the internet does not make you an expert on medicine. Vaccines are effective, generally speaking. We’ve eliminated major diseases with them. All the “evidence” showing vaccines to be harmful, lined to autism, etc. were falsified or just plain wrong. Learn2evidence from credible sources

      • Laconcha

        Education in cleanliness has also helped in eradicating them. Nobody credits that. Only vaccines. New vaccines have to much junk that is not good for you. Check novaccine website to see the ingredients. Vaccines are made thinking everyone is the same. We are not.

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