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Flu vaccine may not work for elderly
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Influenza vaccines provide less protection to the elder people against the flu than they do for younger people, a study in the Lancet medical journal was quoted by media reports as saying Wednesday.

Researchers said the benefit of giving elderly people the flu vaccine has been vastly overestimated, because there is not enough evidence to show to what extent flu jabs cut the death toll for people over the age of 65, if indeed they reduce it at all.

"We need to find a way to better estimate what the true benefits are," said Dr. Lone Simonsen of George Washington University in the U.S.

Because older people have lower immune activity, they in fact get less benefit than younger people from vaccination, Simonsen added.

But she stressed that the elderly should continue to get flu shots and suggested health officials should also be looking for other ways to prevent some of the 36,000 deaths that come each year from flu in the United States alone.

"There is no question about the vaccine working in people under the age of 65," she added.

In the U.S., the annual flu vaccination campaign starts in Autumn targeting people over 65 and those who have long-term health problems. Flu deaths usually peak in January or February.

(Agencies via Xinhua News Agency September 26, 2007)

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