December 1st, 2017


Internist Elisabeth Poorman admits annoying her colleagues with her “skepticism about nearly every medical intervention.” One thing Dr. Poorman isn’t skeptical about, however, is an annual flu vaccine:

But I’ve checked, and I can tell you the vaccine works. It’s not perfect, but it’s among the best forms of protection we have.

If you get the flu vaccine, you are between 50 and 70 percent less likely to get the flu, depending on how well the vaccine matches the current strains of the virus. You are slightly more likely to have soreness or a short fever with the flu shot, but you cannot get the flu from the shot, because it does not contain any live virus.

Serious complications may occur in one out of every 500,000 people. Compare that to the hundreds of thousands of Americans hospitalized for flu each year.


Children are especially vulnerable to really bad influenza infections and complications. Infants, children under 5 years old, those with chronic medical conditions (some of which are not rare, like asthma, diabetes, epilepsy, and obesity), and children who go unimmunized (through no fault of their own) are especially at risk from this common seasonal virus. Robert Preidt reports on a new study of Canadian children confirming Dr. Poorman’s point that the easy way to keep kids out of the hospital from flu and its complications is to provide them with an annual flu shot:

Among children fully vaccinated against the flu, those aged 2 to 4 years had a 67 percent reduced risk of hospitalization due to the flu. Those 6 months to 23 months old had a 48 percent reduced risk, the study found.

Even those who were partially vaccinated (one dose of flu vaccine during their first flu season) had a 39 percent reduced risk of flu-related hospitalization, according to the study.


Dr. Poorman has stopped asking her patients if they want a flu shot. Instead, she tells them they need it. She says it’s an easy sell for her patients who haven’t fallen victim to the “fake news” cycle, where the bubble you reside in trumps the facts (no pun intended). Facts do matter, Dr. Poorman says, when the words come from a trusted physician’s mouth, website, or social media feed:

So here’s my attempt to invade your social media feed. Suggested tweet: “This doctor gave flu vaccines to her patients. You won’t believe what happened next: They were 50 to 70 percent less likely to get the flu!”


It’s not too late to make sure your kids are protected against influenza A and B. Call your pediatrician’s office today and set up a time to run in and get the best protection available. When all goes well, you’ll never know how important that flu shot really was to you, your child, and maybe even someone you never met.


(Google Images)


4 Responses to News Flash: Flu Shot Works!

  1. Flu shot 50 to 70% effective. Pure fiction. That was believed like 15 years ago.
    - This from the CDC shows flu shot on average is 41% effective over last 13 years.
    This year they say the flu shot may only be 10% effective.
    Last year it was 48% effective overall, the year before 42% and the year before that 19%.
    Then doctor you should Google “Serial flu shot Problem” which makes the flu shot even less effective. This is a new problem where basically the more flu shots you get the less effective it becomes.

    • Thanks for including the NEJM article. The problem with the current vaccine may be the egg-based technology used. Still, the last paragraph of that article shouldn’t be missed:

      “However imperfect, though, current influenza vaccines remain a valuable public health tool, and it is always better to get vaccinated than not to get vaccinated. In this regard, the CDC estimates that influenza vaccination averted 40,000 deaths in the United States between the 2005–2006 and 2013–2014 seasons. Yet we can do better. Although targeted research to improve current vaccine antigens, platforms, and manufacturing strategies may in the short term lead to enhanced effectiveness of seasonal influenza vaccines, to achieve the ultimate objective of a universal influenza vaccine, a broad range of expertise and substantial resources will be required to fill gaps in our knowledge and develop a transformative approach to influenza-vaccine design.”

      • Yes I saw that last paragraph which is added at the end of every study criticizing a vaccine. You have to or your career is over, you are a anti-vaxer. If the vaccine was 0% effective, they would still say “get the vaccine”….

        • So it is here that I will stop you and not print any more of what you have written. Espousing myths and conspiracy theories are not going to convince either me or my readers. One source you have completely cherry picked to come to a false conclusion; the other source you sent me is wholly unobjective. And finally, to answer your question: yes, I have known people who have died from the flu. (Your first source states as much — contrary to your belief, people do die from the flu.) Please go troll on someone else’s blog — you, “Jan”, are no longer welcome here.


    Ned Ketyer, M.D.

    Ned Ketyer, M.D.

    Dr. Ketyer has special interests in developmental pediatrics and preventative medicine, specifically how nutrition and the environment affect health. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont and his medical degree from Northwestern University Medical School. He completed his residency at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

    As one of the founding physicians of Pediatric Alliance, PC, Dr. Ketyer served as its president from 1997-2004. He has been practicing general pediatrics at Pediatric Alliance since 1990. Dr. Ketyer and his wife have three boys and live in Pittsburgh's South Hills. 

  • Note: The information included in these posts is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.

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