Consumers may have been misled about the effectiveness of routine immunisation with the Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine.
New evidence suggests that widespread underreporting of the incidence of the disease may have skewed the figures showing a 15 fold decrease in the disease after the introduction of routine vaccinations in 1992.
Before the introduction of the vaccine, the disease was already known to be underreported. However, researchers at the University of Warwick say that, with the advent of routine vaccination of children under five, the effectiveness of routine surveillance declined by 23 per cent. This has resulted in an overestimation of the effectiveness of the immunisation programme.
Poor surveillance may also be a factor in the overestimation of the effectiveness of other vaccines, such as the meningitis C, say the authors (BMJ, 2000; 321: 731-2).