Why the flu vaccine is less effective in the elderly

Around this time every year, the flu virus infects up to one-fifth of the U.S. population and kills thousands of people, many of them elderly. A study published by Cell Press in Immunity now explains why the flu vaccine is less effective at protecting older individuals. More broadly, the findings reveal novel molecular signatures that could be used to predict which individuals are most likely to respond positively to vaccination.

"We provide novel evidence of a potential connection between the baseline state of the immune system in the elderly and reduced responsiveness to vaccination," say co-senior study authors Shankar Subramaniam of the University of California, San Diego, and Bali Pulendran of Emory University. "By providing a more complete picture of how the immune system responds to vaccination, our findings may help guide the development of next-generation vaccines that offer long-lasting immunity and better protection of at-risk populations." Dr. Pulendran is a faculty member in the IMP program.

Click here to view the full story in EurekAlert - The Global Source for Science News. The story is also featured in The San Diego Union-Tribune, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, and Infection Control Today. A related story, "Mountain of data on flu vaccine responses" is found in Lab Land - The Emory Health Sciences Research Blog.