Navigation Links
Flu Shot May Not Work as Well for Seniors
Date:2/6/2013

By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Seniors seem to get a weaker boost to their immune system following a flu shot than young people do, a small study shows.

Experts say the findings essentially confirm what's been believed: The flu shot just doesn't work as well for older immune systems. But they also caution that the vaccine remains the best defense against flu misery.

Older people are among those at greatest risk for flu complications, like pneumonia. Americans older than 65 have been hard-hit during the current, rough flu season: Late last month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that 98 of every 100,000 seniors were hospitalized with the flu for the week ending Jan. 19.

So older adults should keep getting vaccinated every year, according to Nicholas Kelley, a research associate with the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis.

"Getting the flu shot is safe, and it's better than doing nothing," said Kelley, who was not involved in the new study. "It's still the best weapon we've got."

For the study, which appeared Feb. 6 in the journal Science Translational Medicine, researchers analyzed blood samples from 17 volunteers who'd gotten the flu shot. Four of them were aged 70 or older, while the rest were 8 to 30 years old.

They used gene-sequencing technology to get a "head count" of immune system cells called B cells during the volunteers' peak immune response to the vaccine, explained lead researcher Ning Jenny Jiang, currently an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin. The study took place while she was based at Stanford University.

B cells are important because they produce the antibodies that the immune system launches against invaders, like the flu virus. When B cells are exposed to the dead or weakened virus in a vaccine, they "tweak" their antibody weapons to be more effective against the real virus.

But Jiang's team found that after the flu shot, elderly people had lower numbers of distinct B cell types, compared to young people. That essentially means they had a less diverse array of weapons against the flu.

"We also noticed that B cells from elderly people had a higher level of mutation, or tweaks, to their antibody-coding genes compared to other age groups," Jiang said. That suggests their B cells are already very "specialized" -- and possibly more resistant to further "tweaks" from the flu vaccine.

"This basically confirms what we've believed to be true," Kelley said. "But this is the first time [the research] has gotten to this technical of a level."

Another expert said the study provides helpful new information for researchers.

"We've known for years that older adults don't respond as well to the flu vaccine," said Dr. Andrew Pavia, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. "This gives us some insights into why."

And a better understanding of older people's immune response could help in developing better flu vaccines, according to Pavia, who also chairs the Pandemic Influenza Task Force of the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

Both Pavia and Kelley said that ultimately, what's needed is a flu shot that's more effective for seniors -- and for children younger than 2, Pavia noted.

There is already a high-dose flu vaccine on the market, specifically designed for people age 65 and up. Researchers know it can spur older immune systems to produce more antibodies.

"But," Pavia said, "we don't know yet if that means better protection against the flu after people are vaccinated."

For now, study author Jiang said that older adults can take some extra steps to protect themselves. One is to get your flu shot early, since it takes about two weeks for the body to build up immunity. In the United States, flu season can begin as early as October.

Older people may also want to avoid being around others who are sick, and be vigilant for potential flu symptoms, Jiang said. Those include fever, chills, sore throat, headache and body aches.

Jiang advised calling your doctor right away if you have those symptoms: There are prescription anti-flu drugs, but they work best if you start them within two days of developing symptoms.

More information

Learn more about the flu from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: Ning Jenny Jiang, Ph.D., assistant professor, biomedical engineering, University of Texas at Austin; Nicholas Kelley, Ph.D., research associate, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, University of Minnesota, Minn.; Andrew Pavia, M.D., chief, pediatric infectious diseases, University of Utah, Salt Lake City; Feb. 6, 2013, Science Translational Medicine


'/>"/>
Copyright©2012 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. A Good Mood May Boost Seniors Brain Power
2. Lighter Sleep May Dull Memory Skills in Seniors
3. Doctor Explains Why Flu a Greater Threat to Seniors
4. Winter Holds Many Hazards for Seniors, Expert Warns
5. After Hospital Discharge, Other Ills May Land Seniors Back in Again
6. Costly Breast Cancer Screenings May Not Help Seniors: Study
7. Palliative Care Eases Suffering for Seniors at End of Life: Study
8. New Website Aims To Keep Seniors In Their Homes – Caringly.com
9. Marijuana Use Rising Among High School Seniors: Report
10. Poor Vision Can Isolate Seniors
11. Stress, Depression Linked to Raised Stroke Risk in Seniors
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Flu Shot May Not Work as Well for Seniors
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... February 12, 2016 , ... US Sport Camps is pleased to ... Club, located in Norwalk, serves as the host site and directing the camps is ... “We have had successful camps in recent years around Des Moines and are fortunate ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... OBISPO, Calif. (PRWEB) , ... February 12, 2016 , ... The Central Coast Autism Spectrum ... this dance is to provide a night of fun for teens with and without special ... everyone feel welcomed and included at the event. The dance will take place on Saturday, ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... Detroit, Mi (PRWEB) , ... February 12, 2016 , ... ... a unique and integral part of the Peety PoppersTM series, sign language translation is ... every message of health and wellness in Peety PoppersTM lessons has a sign language ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... ... Dignity Health named Dr. Scott Bingham the Facility Medical Director of the ... licensed under Dignity Health Arizona General Hospital , which opened last year in ... our new freestanding emergency room delivers the highest quality care to Mesa and the ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... ... February 11, 2016 , ... According to an ... marketed as a weight loss dietary supplement, is being recalled due to the discovery ... Physicians, because there is not a single supplement on the market proven to help ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/11/2016)... N.Y. , Feb. 11, 2016  Governor Andrew ... that will create 1,400 jobs throughout Western ... a partnership with the SUNY Polytechnic Institute, includes a ... Conventus Building in Buffalo , as ... foot manufacturing facility in Dunkirk . ...
(Date:2/11/2016)...  NOIT™ Research LLC, a private, leading-edge autism research ... to assist needy families in obtaining one of its ... February 10, 2016 and March 31, 2016, the company ... NOIT is an auditory stimulus that plays a key ... Beth Shier , NOIT Research director. ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... WESTPORT, Conn. , Feb. 11, 2016  AfterPill.com ... decision to recommend alcohol abstinence for all women who ... women in the U.S. each year and raises the ... --> --> According to the ... U.S., 70% of women of child-bearing age, who have ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: