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Over-65s "should have flu jab"

Experts have said that people over 65 should get vaccinated against the flu virus this winter despite reservations over its effectiveness.

They argued that the injection offers protection against illness and cuts the number of hospital admissions and deaths associated with flu.

In recent years a number of studies have questioned the benefits of the UK's immunisation programme.

A previous study found that the vaccine had no "protective effect" on lowering the numbers of elderly people admitted to hospital suffering a respiratory infection.

Another study, from researchers at George Washington University in Washington DC, said the benefits in reducing deaths among over 70s had been "greatly exaggerated".

But experts have now argued the benefits of vaccinating over–65s in editorial in the British Medical Journal.

Rachel Jordan, from the University of Birmingham, and Jeremy Hawker, from the Health Protection Agency, said that most experts agreed that the flu jab had some benefit.

The pair said that establishing the full effectiveness of the flu vaccine was "fraught with difficulty" due to a number of factors.

But they said most experts agree on one thing – that "although the evidence base needs strengthening, influenza vaccine has some benefit and programmes should continue".

Copyright © Press Association 2008

British Medical Journal

Should all over-65s be given the flu jab? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"I think they should, despite the emphasis on individual choice. Prevention is better than cure – a very good motto particularly when it relates to one's health." - V Henry