Efficacy and effectiveness of influenza vaccination

Only about one in ten of all flu-like episodes is caused by an infection with the influenza virus. In the study discussed here, one in 20 of non-vaccinated persons aged 50 or over contracted influenza in the 2014/2015 flu season, against one in 30 of those who had been vaccinated, though the latter number would have been more favourable if the vaccine had had a better match (or a better vaccine had been used).

The findings are in reasonable agreement with a recent Dutch publication and the editorial comment accompanying it. Is it necessary to continue the current practice in view of the low vaccination effectiveness and the lack of certainty about its effect on complications of influenza?

  1. Dunkle LM, et al. Efficacy of recombinant influenza vaccin in adults 50 years of age or older. N Engl J Med. 2017; 376: 2427-2436.
  2. van Doorn E, et al. Effectiviteit van influenzavaccinatie in Nederland. Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2017; 161:  D1648.
  3. Zaat J. Griepvaccinatie als vakantiegeld. Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2017; 161: B1398.

*The literature refers to the Dutch text


  • Dr A. Kerremans