The burden of influenza in older adults: meeting the challenge

  • Jessica Bartoszko
  • Mark LoebEmail author
Review Article


Influenza is an acute respiratory infection for which vaccination is our best prevention strategy. Small seasonal changes in circulating influenza viruses (antigenic drift) result in the need for annual influenza vaccination, in which the vaccine formulation is updated to better match the predominant circulating influenza viruses that have undergone important antigenic changes. Although the burden of influenza infection and its complications is the highest in older adults, vaccine effectiveness is the lowest in this vulnerable population. This is largely due to waning of the immune response with age known as “immune senescence”, and presents an important, unmet challenge. Possible strategies to tackle this include adjuvant and high-dose vaccines, and herd immunity induced by greater vaccine uptake.


Influenza Infection Vaccine efficacy Vaccine effectiveness Vaccination Herd immunity 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Dr. Loeb has received funding from CIHR, NIH, WHO, as well as from Sanofi Pasteur, Seqirus, and Pfizer, as well as honoraria for advising or speaking for these companies.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

Informed consent is not applicable.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and ImpactMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

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