The use of spurious data this way is particularly disingenuous for an organization that lives by statistics. And it affects peoples’ lives.
Monday, August 10, 2009
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is using misleading figures to rationalize the denial of life saving H1N1 flu vaccine to seniors and other older age groups. In a study in which they give infection rates and hospitalization rates for different age groups, the CDC uses meaningless share data for deaths from the flu in an attempt to give the appearance of lower (non-threatening) death rates for older age groups. Size differences of groups affects results because larger groups such as 5-24 (83 million) and 25-49 (106 million) show higher numbers of almost anything than the smaller 65+ (39 million) group. They simply have a higher share of the population. This gives the impression the younger larger groups have a higher death rate and have a higher need for the vaccine. In reality the over 65 group has a higher death rate than the 5-24 group but they are allocated no vaccine. From the Wall Street Journal: People ages 65 and over, who are normally among the first to get seasonal flu shots, would be last in line for the new H1N1 shot, because their rates of infection have been far lower Seniors get shortchanged because of their low infection rate, but they die at a far higher rate than other groups once infected (see the bottom graph for the explanation). The older you are the worse you are affected. And the difference isn’t miniscule. A 50 to 65 year old has nearly a 15 times the chance of dying once infected than a 5 to 24 year old. And 65 and over 34 times, giving a higher mortality rate.