If you’re a lay person, I don’t know how much more clearly the case for getting your seasonal flu, swine flu, and pneumonia shots can be made than this: a compelling statistical correlation and quotes from two leading experts. Here’s the statistical correlation (which appeared in a recent Atlantic Monthly article for November 2009):
[R]esearchers studying the impact of flu vaccination typically look at deaths from all causes during flu season, and compare the vaccinated and unvaccinated populations. Such comparisons have shown a dramatic difference in mortality between these two groups: study after study has found that people who get a flu shot in the fall are about half as likely to die that winter—from any cause—as people who do not. Get your flu shot each year, the literature suggests, and you will dramatically reduce your chance of dying during flu season.
And here, in the same article, are quotes from two leading experts on virology who advise flu vaccination:
Nancy Cox, the CDC’s influenza division chief, says flatly, “The flu vaccine is the best way to protect against flu.” Anthony Fauci, a physician and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the NIH, where much of the basic science of flu vaccination has been worked out, says, “I have no doubt that it is effective in conferring some degree of protection. To say otherwise is a minority view.”
You’re certainly free to ignore such a powerful statistical correlation and majority medical opinion on the importance of getting flu vaccinations, but why, if you’re not an expert in the field of virology, would you do so?
Both quotes above come from “Shots in the Dark”, an article that appeared in the November 2009 edition of Atlantic Monthly.