Flu Vaccine: The Jar Is Three-Quarters Full, Not Half Empty


William Schaffner, MD, explains the strengths and weaknesses of the flu vaccine.

William Schaffner, MD, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, explains the strengths and weaknesses of the flu vaccine.

Interview Transcript (modified slightly for readability):

“Flu vaccine is pretty darn good vaccine; it’s not a perfect vaccine. It’s not like the measles vaccines that will prevent measles completely. We all know that we have to get the vaccine each year because the virus mutates and we have to reformulate the vaccine. And we also know, although it protects many people completely, it may, indeed, result in some people getting influenza despite the vaccine, but it will be a milder infection. So, let’s think about the jar [as] three-quarters full, rather than half empty. Put the accent on the positive salable. We should use this vaccine, which is the best we have available today, to prevent as many illnesses as possible. Who wants to go to the hospital as a patient? Going as a doctor is one thing, but going as a patient? No. Let’s prevent that happening from flu.”

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