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Flu Shot Averted About 13 Million Illnesses Over Six Years

THURSDAY, June 20 (HealthDay News) -- Influenza vaccination likely prevented over 13 million illnesses and more than 100,000 hospitalizations from 2005 to 2011, according to a study published online June 19 in PLOS ONE.

Deliana Kostova, Ph.D., from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues used existing surveillance data from 2005 to 2011 (rates of influenza-associated hospitalization, rates of influenza illness, rate of medically-attended illness, influenza vaccination coverage, and influenza vaccine effectiveness) to estimate the direct effect of influenza vaccination, calculated in terms of the number of cases averted by vaccination compared with the number of cases that would have occurred without vaccination.

The researchers estimated that vaccination averted a total of 13.6 million influenza illnesses, ranging from a low of 1.1 million during the 2006 to 2007 season to a high of five million illnesses during the 2010 to 2011 season. Vaccination averted a total of 112,900 influenza-related hospitalizations, ranging from a low of 7,700 during the 2009 to 2010 season to a high of 40,400 during the 2010 to 2011 season. The authors note that there was a post-pandemic expansion of vaccination coverage reflected in the highest prevention during the 2010 to 2011 season.

"Our results underscore the potential for additional disease prevention through increased vaccination coverage, particularly among non-elderly adults, and increased vaccine effectiveness, particularly among the elderly," Kostova and colleagues conclude.

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