Flu Vaccine: A Worthwhile Precaution

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Flu Vaccine: A Worthwhile Precaution

Flu Vaccine: A Worthwhile Precaution

The Australian Government recommends that the annual seasonal influenza vaccination be given to “any person aged six months and over who wishes to reduce the likelihood of
becoming ill with the flu”.

Seasonal flu comes with a substantial health burden increasing risk of illness and death, particularly in vulnerable populations such as the elderly or diseased. For example, influenza may hasten vascular events in patients with heart disease.

Despite this increased risk, there remains some uncertainty around the degree to which flu immunisation can protect groups at high risk of infection. Furthermore, concerns have been
raised about giving the flu vaccine to groups such as the elderly or those with chronic conditions, which might impair the immune response to the vaccine.Given that this group may be particularly vulnerable to the negative health outcomes associated with flu infection, more research is needed to investigate vaccine efficacy in this group.

Researchers analysed the effectiveness of the seasonal flu vaccine against a range of outcomes in people with type 2 diabetes. Records were analysed for adults with type 2
diabetes. Outcomes included hospital admissions for heart attack, stroke, pneumonia, heart failure and all-cause death. Nearly 125,000 people with type 2 diabetes were included in the study.

Seasonal influenza vaccine uptake ranged from 63 – 69% in the study population. The results showed that flu vaccination was associated with significant reductions in all these outcomes during the flu season. Immunisation was also associated with lower rates of most outcomes during the pre and post-flu seasons.

This study suggests that the flu vaccine might be a useful precaution for people with type 2 diabetes to reduce risk of hospitalisation due to a variety of events. Further research is required to assess whether these results apply for other chronic conditions.

Talk to your doctor about what conditions you have should you be concerned about getting, vaccinated.

Reference: Vamos, E et al. (2016). Effectiveness of the influenza vaccine in preventing admission to hospital and death in people with type 2 diabetes. CMAJ. DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.151059.