It’s flu season. The economic toll of viral illness is almost as great as the human one. One recent estimate suggested that annual influenza epidemics impose a national economic burden of over $87 billion dollars. Many people were surprised to learn a few weeks ago that as vaccines go, the flu shot that some get every year is not 100 percent effective. In fact, a recent study found that the vaccine prevented illness in just 59% of adults aged 18 to 64. The authors said that evidence of effectiveness was particularly lacking in children aged 2 to 17 and in certain populations that are especially vulnerable to flu, like elderly people over 65.
Michael Osterholm is the lead author of the study. He’s also Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy at the University of Minnesota. [Audio below]