The burden of influenza in older adults: meeting the challenge


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.

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Correspondence to Mark Loeb.

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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.

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Bartoszko, J., Loeb, M. The burden of influenza in older adults: meeting the challenge. Aging Clin Exp Res (2019).

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  • Influenza
  • Infection
  • Vaccine efficacy
  • Vaccine effectiveness
  • Vaccination
  • Herd immunity