Flu vaccines are known to be less effective in the elderly. But until now, the mechanisms behind this phenomenon were not well-understood. I'm Shelby Cullinan with your latest health news.
In a new study, researchers found that the baseline state of elderly patients' immune systems may be behind this reduced responsiveness to vaccination. Flu vaccines work by encouraging the production of antibodies (proteins that help the immune system identify viruses) in the body. Aging lowers the body's ability to have a good immune response after getting vaccinated — putting the elderly at a greater risk of severe flu-related complications. To find out why this happens, the study team vaccinated 212 patients across five flu seasons between 2007 and 2011. Around 50 of these patients were elderly. Within one week of vaccination, the younger patients showed high levels of antibody-producing B cells.
By comparison, the elderly patients showed high levels of cells called monocytes, which elicit inflammatory responses in the body. Fluzone High-Dose is a flu vaccine designed specifically for patients age 65 and older. This vaccine helps older patients develop better immune responses. If you have any questions regarding the flu shot, be sure to speak to your doctor.
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