Vaccinating older people against pneumonia is a 'waste of time'
Last updated at 1:20 AM on 06th January 2009
The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine does not cut the risk of pneumonia in older people
Giving jabs to older people against an infection which causes pneumonia is a waste of time, say researchers.
Millions of pensioners have been vaccinated with a one-off jab as part of a Government campaign launched five years ago.
But it does not cut the risk of pneumonia in people aged 65 and over, according to researchers carrying out possibly the largest review into efficacy of the vaccine.
It looked at 22 trials from several countries involving more than 100,000 people but, unlike similar studies, Swiss researchers investigated why different studies had produced different results.
They found only high quality studies produced reliable results - and they all failed to find any evidence that this kind of vaccine could prevent pneumonia.
Those who received pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccines (PPVs) were not less likely to contract pneumonia than those who had not been vaccinated and little difference in risk of death.
The findings are published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Countries like Britain currently recommend people over 65 are given the £9 jab, along with younger people at increased risk due to conditions such as HIV which suppress the immune system.
Dr Matthias Egger, from the University of Bern, who led the latest research, said vaccination does not appear to work, even in the elderly.
He said: 'Policy makers may therefore wish to reconsider their current recommendations for PPV, especially where routine