The immune system of older people respond slower and less versatile on the flu vaccination than younger people. Thus, the elderly are less good in front of new variants of the ever-changing flu virus protected, report US researchers in the journal “Cell Host & Microbe”.
Influenza viruses change continuously, tiny structures on their surface, which serve the immune system as actually as the detection feature. Antibodies bind selectively to these structures, so that the immune system can recognize the virus and neutralize it.
A pathogen is constantly changing, it also develops the immune system a certain amount of flexibility. The genes of certain immune cells – the B cells – are altered by mutations so that they are able to produce various antibody variants and against different forms of the pathogen prepared. The researchers examined how this process changes with age.
The immune system remains in the past hanging
For this, you compared, such as B-cells from younger (22 to 64 years) and elderly (71 to 89 years old) adults respond when the subjects were inoculated with different Influenza viruses. It showed that the B-cells of younger people are continually changes in the antibody-accumulating genes. In older age, this ability to.
In addition, the anti-reacted body of older trial participants is especially strong on historical virus variants circulated in the Childhood of the subjects. The immune response to newer virus variants was much weaker. “Our results could be used to better vaccines and to improve the protection of the elderly population,” says study leader Patrick Wilson of the University of Chicago (USA).
A vaccination to stay still, the best protection against Influenza, emphasize the researchers. “We are not saying that people should not be vaccinated, or the current vaccines are useless for the elderly,” says researcher Carole Henry, also of the University of Chicago. The aim was rather to improve the vaccines.
First versions specifically for older people were developed. The immune response to these vaccines would need to be investigated in a next step. Such vaccines contain such Adjuvants.
Older people can halve their risk of infection with the vaccine
The Standing Committee on vaccination (Stiko) at the Robert Koch-Institute recommends the flu vaccination for all people over the age of 60 years. When you are at special risk to develop in the course of a flu disease dangerous complications.
Last Winter, the Robert Koch Institute documented 1674 deaths associated with the flu. 87 percent of the Affected was at least 60 years of age, 50 percent, 80 years of age and older.
Also if your immune response the round will be weaker, could halve the elderly with a vaccination, your risk of developing the disease, reported to the RKI. In addition, the disease course in Vaccinated people are milder.
The flu wave in Germany has started in mid-January, the number of diseases is increasing rapidly. Since September of 2018, the Robert Koch-Institute, according to 74 people to the consequences of a flu infection died. 17 percent of Patients, in whom an infection in the laboratory has been demonstrated, had to be treated in the hospital.
So far, it is impossible to know how severe the Flu season will be this season. For those who want to still get vaccinated should do so quickly. The immune system takes about two weeks, until it has built up after vaccination, the maximum possible protection.