Influenza vaccine to be improved for older adults

The current influenza vaccine is being studied to see if it can be improved for older adults.

Researchers believe that the common influenza vaccine is effective in only 30 to 40 percent of those over the age of 65, compared to 80 to 90 percent of younger adults. Every year, influenza kills 36,000 people and sends 200,000 to the hospital for treatment, according to

“Influenza is the most vaccine preventable disease in older people, however, current influenza vaccines can be improved,” Dr. Janet McElhaney of the University of Connecticut Center on Aging said, reports.

According to McElhaney, a vaccine’s effectiveness is dependent on the number of antibodies the body produces after it is received. It is generally more difficult for older people to produce antibodies, and therefore, vaccines lose their effectiveness.

“Effective vaccines for the elderly will require not only stronger doses that produce more antibodies but entire reformulations that stimulate T cell production,” McElhaney said, according to

Older adults have a heightened risk of developing pneumonia or other potentially fatal complications as a result of influenza infection. Approximately 90 percent of flu deaths recorded each year are among the elderly. Seniors are recommended to get the flu shot every year in late October or early November.