Estimated benefit of influenza vaccination

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A report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCs) claimed that flu vaccination allowed preventing about 6.6 million influenza-associated illnesses during the 2012-2013 season. CDC experts use data from previous seasons to estimate the impact of the next flu wave. Usually, these numbers speak of about 200,000 expected hospitalizations. However, last year 79,000 hospitalizations were prevented thanks to the flu vaccine. Specifically, children from 6 months to 4 years old and adults aged at least 65 years accounted for an estimated 69% of the prevented hospitalizations.

CDC experts also reported that, had 70% of the population been vaccinated last season, as opposed to the 44.7% actual vaccine coverage, more positive results would have been obtained: indeed, another 4.4 million influenza illnesses, 1.8 million medically attended illnesses and 30,000 hospitalizations could have been prevented.

The benefits of influenza vaccination still have some difficulties to be perceived by the population: CDC estimates that, as of early November, only 40% of Americans aged at least 6 months have received a vaccine for the 2013-2014 season. A percentage not far from that of the previous year. The vaccination coverage reported by the experts for pregnant women is 41% and raises to 63% amongst healthcare professionals.

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Europe health saved by welfare

Peace Love Doctor, Bansky. Credit: Thomas Hawk / Flickr. Licenza: CC BY-NC 2.0.

Mortality trends in Europe have been decreasing in recent years, differently from what happened in the United States with the rise in the so-called “deaths of despair” among low educated middle-aged white Americans. Most of all, such trends in Europe show no interruptions due to the economic crisis. This is the conclusion of a study published on PNAS by LIFEPATH, a project funded by the European Commission, which investigates the biological pathways underlying social differences in healthy ageing.