Every November, without hesitation, I insist on getting my seasonal flu vaccine. And without fail, year after year, I am forced to have the same discussion with family, friends, loved-ones, coworkers, and Facebook associates on the merits of the flu shot. As frustrating as it may be, it is a conversation worth having and a topic worth exploring.
As a hospital-based researcher, I feel that I have a moral obligation to get my seasonal flu shot in order to protect immune compromised individuals. As an immunologist, I want to show my own support for both the science and industry of vaccine development and production. But at the end of the day, the argument percolates to the effectiveness versus the inconvenience of the vaccine.
Estimates from a 6 year surveillance study by Kostova et al. placed the number of influenza cases averted by vaccination in the United States between 1.1 to 5 million cases per year. Put another way, seasonal vaccination can prevent between 7,700 to 40,000 hospitalizations per year. As astounding as these numbers may seem, if you look at the percentage of averted cases over a 6-year period, the seasonal flu vaccine only prevented between 7.3 to 18% of cases depending on age.
In a similar 15 year retrospective study by Ridenhour et al. of Ontario seniors aged 65 and over, seasonal vaccine effectiveness was estimated at 22% but only averted approximately 4% of total influenza-associated hospitalizations and deaths.
The seasonal flu vaccine is certainly not perfect but it does save lives which makes it science worth exploring, worth discussing, and worth sharing. IMMpress Magazine was created on these principles and it is my great pleasure to announce our fourth and end-of-year influenza-themed issue.
With the continued help of past and present sponsors, writers, designers, illustrators and photographers, we were once again able to print 500 copies of the magazine. At the end of this publication cycle, we are all proud of the work that we have put into this project and equally proud of the great feedback that we have received. In the spirit of openness, we have created an infographic of the magazine’s progress and reach. In this issue, you will also find featured content on evolving with viruses and a brief interview with an influenza researcher and alumnus.
Thank you for a wonderful publication year,