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Flu jabs are a 'waste of taxpayers' money', claim scientists who say the benefits have been over-hyped<br>
University of Minnesota report says benefits – especially for older people – have been over-promoted <br>New vaccine pipeline hindered as a result <br>But experts still recommend current vaccination 'as it's the best we have'

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<strong>UPDATED:</strong>

18:57 GMT, 22 November 2012

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<br><p>The benefits of the annual flu jab have been &#8216;over-hyped&#8217;, scientists claim.</p><p>They say the vaccine is far less effective than is widely believed, with some studies showing it protects less than two-thirds of the population.</p><p>The US researchers say ministers in Britain as well as America are &#8216;wasting taxpayers&#8217; money&#8217; on the jab.</p><p>And they claim that because the benefits have been so &#8216;over-promoted&#8217;, scientists have been deterred from inventing vaccines that would be far more effective.<br></p>
<img src="http://www.big-wife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/f60darticle-2236253-16257656000005DC-198_468x286.jpg" width="468" height="286" alt="Flu jabs are a waste of taxpayer's money due to the protective effects of the vaccine being over-hyped, it has been claimed" class="blkBorder" />
<p class="imageCaption">Flu jabs are a waste of taxpayer's money due to the protective effects of the vaccine being over-hyped, it has been claimed</p>

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<p>But the Department of Health has
insisted the flu jabs &#8216;save lives&#8217; and urged the elderly and patients
with long-term conditions to come forward for their vaccinations.</p>
<p>Researchers from the University of
Minnesota looked at 12,000 studies on the effectiveness and safety of
the flu jab, going back to the 1930s.

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<p>They say that although Government
officials claim it protects between 70 and 90 per cent of the
population, this is actually not the case.</p>
<p>In fact, they say, it protects just 59 per cent of adults aged 18 to 65, but is far less effective in the elderly.</p>
<p>Professor Michael Osterholm, who was
involved in the study, said: &#8216;I have been a strong proponent of
vaccination in general, and flu vaccine in particular, for many years. I
still recommend its use as the best we have.</p>

<img src="http://www.big-wife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/58fearticle-2236253-1625764F000005DC-941_233x423.jpg" width="233" height="423" alt="The report's author, Professor Michael Osterholm, said he still recommended the vaccine, but its benefits were over-reported" class="blkBorder" />
<p class="imageCaption">The report's author, Professor Michael Osterholm, said he still recommended the vaccine, but its benefits were over-reported</p><p>&#8216;But we have over-promoted this
vaccine. For certain age groups in some years its effectiveness has been
severely limited relative to what has been previously reported.</p>
<p>&#8216;That has had a very dampening effect
on the development of new vaccines.&#8217; And Douglas Fleming, of the Royal
College of General Practitioners&#8217; Influenza Monitoring Unit in
Birmingham, said: &#8216;No vaccines are perfect. Last year&#8217;s flu vaccine was a
bad match with the circulating strains. Its effectiveness varies from
year to year and with different age groups.</p>
<p>&#8216;Among the elderly it is widely
recognised that its effectiveness decreases. Better vaccines are needed
for this reason particularly. It has been over-hyped by many people.&#8217; </p>
<p>At present the flu jab is offered
free to the over-65s, pregnant women and anyone with an underlying
health condition such as asthma, diabetes or epilepsy.</p>
<p>The immunisation programme is estimated to cost the taxpayer 115million a year.</p>
<p>The latest figures from the Health
Protection Agency show that 61 per cent of the over-65s have been
vaccinated this year, as well as 30 per cent of pregnant women and 37.5
per cent of those with long-term conditions.</p>
<p>A Department of Health spokesman said: &#8216;There is no doubt that the flu programme saves lives.</p>
<p>&#8216;Evidence on the effectiveness of the
vaccine is reviewed by the Joint Committee of Vaccination and
Immunisation and this year the committee undertook a detailed review of
the flu vaccine programme.</p>
<p>&#8216;We strongly encourage scientists and
the vaccine industry in their efforts to develop new and more effective
flu vaccine and do not agree that these efforts are being discouraged.</p>
<p>&#8216;Each year thousands of people die after catching flu and we urge everyone that is in an at-risk group to get the vaccine.&#8217; </p>
<p>Professor Osterholm added: &#8216;We
support using flu vaccine in all age groups. Even among the over-65s,
although it is of limited benefit, it is still a benefit.&#8217;</p>
<br><p> </p>


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