[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
November 18, 1974

The Current Status of Influenza Vaccines

JAMA. 1974;230(7):1046-1047. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03240070078043

MORE misinformation exists about influenza vaccine, among the public and in the medical profession, than about any other immunizing agent in common use. Such comments as "If I take my flu shot, I don't have a cold all year" and "Flu shots don't do me any good because I have just as many colds anyway" are heard in offices, clinics, and in casual conversation. Physicians are confused. Uncertainty about the character and frequency of reactions to vaccine, the continuous parade of apparently "new" influenza viruses, seemingly contradictory information on the effectiveness of influenza vaccine, the necessity of annual immunization, and the difficulty in diagnosing influenza all combine to give influenza vaccine an image that is something less than glowing.

Fundamental to an understanding of the problem is an appreciation of the antigenic changes that continuously occur, principally among influenza A viruses, but to a lesser extent among the B viruses.