This letter appeared on in the Los Angeles Times.
The 1980s Japanese experience -- wherein a requirement that Japanese schoolchildren get vaccinated against the flu led to a dramatic reduction in the death toll among seniors -- should have led our own CDC to mandate getting our schoolchildren vaccinated against the flu long ago. And it probably would have but for ongoing anti-vaccine superstition.
The benefits for seniors of also getting a pneumococcal vaccine (pneumonia shot) are clear as well -- and whereas flu shots must be received annually to be effective, pneumonia shots can provide some protection for several years after being administered.
These public health efforts can and should continue even while we research ways of making the flu vaccine more potent for seniors.