WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

Studies question how statins affect flu vaccines in seniors

Courtesy of ruiz.house.gov
Two new studies may suggest that cholesterol-reducing drugs, called statins, may negatively affect the immune response that the influenza vaccine is designed to generate in older adults.

The impact of the statins may alter the vaccine’s efficacy in protecting older adults from influenza. If this suggestion is confirmed by additional research, it could change various flu vaccine and statin guidelines and recommendations.

"Apparently, statins interfere with the response to influenza vaccine and lower the immune response, and this would seem to also result in a lower effectiveness of influenza vaccines," Steven Black, of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and lead author of the immune response study, said.

In the studies, people who had followed their statin prescriptions had a notably lower immune response to the vaccines when they were compared to patients who do not have statins. Further vaccine clinical trials for seniors may be required.

"What we found was a potential signal that the effectiveness of flu vaccine in older people may be compromised somewhat if they are on statins, compared to those who are not on statins," Saad Omer, of Emory University and lead author of the vaccine effectiveness study, said.

Further details are available in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

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