A new study has found that flu vaccinations can work as effectively in the active healthy elderly as in young people.
In a research, scientists from A*STAR’s Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN) and clinicians from Singapore’s National University Hospital (NUH) measured post-vaccination levels of antibodies in elderly individuals.
They found that healthy elderly individuals are able to mount immune responses that are quantitatively and qualitatively similar to young individuals, according to a joint press release by A*STAR and NUH. Antibody responses induced by the influenza vaccinations are not impaired by frailty levels of these elderly subjects. Elderly adults are hence recommended to receive seasonal flu vaccinations to protect themselves.
However, individuals should consult their doctor for advice on whether they are suitable to receive any specific vaccines, the statement said.
“Influenza is highly contagious and can even be deadly to some people who develop complications such as pneumonia,” said Professor Paul Tambyah, Senior Consultant from the Division of Infectious Diseases at NUH. “These studies serve to reinforce the message that the elderly should get vaccinated to protect themselves, to reduce the risk of contracting the flu.”
Dr Anis Larbi, Senior Principal Investigator at A*STAR’s SIgN, said, “One might intuitively think that a younger person’s immune response to a flu vaccination would be significantly stronger than an elderly person’s. However, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the elderly participants of the study mounted very robust antibody responses comparable to the younger individuals, even those considered to be frail.”
The elderly subjects from these studies were recruited through the ongoing Singapore Longitudinal Ageing Study (SLAS-2) driven by the National University of Singapore (NUS).
The SLAS-2 is a population-based cohort study of ageing and health among Chinese elderly in Singapore, led by Principal Investigator, A/Prof Ng Tze Pin, from the Department of Psychological Medicine, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, NUS.