Flu vaccine programmes may not achieve their objectives of reducing mortality, hospital admissions and time off work, according to a public health expert in this week's BMJ.
A review of the evidence in the journal suggests that the vaccine may not be as effective as previously thought.
Tom Jefferson, coordinator at Cochrane Vaccines Field inItaly says that evidence from inactivated influenza vaccines show they have little or no effect on many influenza campaign objectives.
He added that most studies are of poor quality, especially in the elderly, and show evidence of bias. And there is surprisingly little evidence on the safety of these vaccines.
Given the huge resources in undertaking a flu vaccine programme he is urging the UK government to carry outan urgent re-evaluation of policy.
British Medical Journal (2006) 333: 912-915