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Flu vaccine is evidence-based

Dr Margaret McCartney claims ‘GPs are not "selfish" for refusing flu vaccination. They are just not convinced that it is evidence-based'

To support this assertion she quotes the conclusions of two Cochrane Reviews.

We write to address Dr McCartney's concerns and to show that flu vaccination of healthcare workers is strongly evidence-based.

We structure our response in five areas to summarise the evidence and highlight the key issues that address Dr McCartney's claims. The evidence shows that:

• Flu vaccination of healthcare workers reduces illness in vulnerable individuals.

• Flu vaccination prevents flu in healthy adults.

• The funding of trials by industry and publication bias should not reduce faith in the results of a meta-analysis, as a full assessment of trial quality is part of any independent review.

• The best way to improve population protection is to increase vaccine uptake.

• Seasonal flu can be just as serious in causing significant morbidity and mortality and should be treated no more lightly than an influenza pandemic.

England's chief medical officer's recent comments should be seen in the above context.

Click here to read an extended version of this letter

From Dr Sam Ghebrehewet

Consultant in communicable disease control and Health Protection Unit North-West regional immunisation lead

Dr Alex G Stewart

Consultant in communicable disease control, Cheshire & Merseyside Health Protection Unit