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Flu vaccine greatly increases risk of asthma problems PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Roman Bystrianyk   
Sunday, 29 August 2004 00:01

A study published in the August 2004 issue of the Archives of Disease in Childhood shows that despite a belief to the contrary, use of the influenza vaccine increased asthma related visits to the clinic as well as emergency room visits.

The study conducted on 800 children with asthma was divided into 2 groups of 400, one group that received the influenza vaccine and one group which did not. Both groups were equally matched in respect to age, sex, and rates of exposure to tobacco smoke.

The hope of the study was that vaccination would lead to a “70% risk reduction” in asthma events. However, the study results showed that after adjusting for multiple variables the vaccine group was more likely to have clinic visits for asthma or pneumonia and were also more likely to have an emergency room visit or hospitalization. In fact, the vaccinated group had nearly a 3 times increased odds of having a clinic visit for asthma or pneumonia and a 2 times risk of emergency department visits or hospitalizations. The authors do note that the risk for hospitalizations did not reach statistical significance.

Because of the “surprising findings” of the study, the authors examined factors that could have given this result. However, after controlling for a number of factors such as asthma severity, previous receipt of the vaccine, and frequent use of medical services the authors still failed to find a benefit for the vaccine. They also note that, “recent systematic reviews have concluded that available evidence is not sufficient for determining whether the vaccine causes more benefit than harm in patients with asthma.”

The authors conclude that, “this study failed to provide clinical evidence in support of the recommendations for annual influenza vaccination of asthmatic children. Even after controlling for several potential confounders, we noted a statistically significant increase in asthma related health care utilization association with vaccination.”


Source: Archives of Disease in Childhood, August 2004, Volume 89, pp.734-5
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