Statins May Reduce Effectiveness of Flu Vaccine
While taking statins is one of the more effective ways to regulate cholesterol, the drugs also may reduce the effectiveness of flu vaccines, according to two studies in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.
Elderly adults are at particularly high risk for serious illness and complication from the flu. At the same time, more than 40 percent of American adults over 65 take statins for their cholesterol. .
Researchers analyzed data from flu vaccine trials conducted during the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 flu seasons, paying close attention to the level of flu antibodies in the blood three weeks after people were vaccinated. Statin users were shown to have a significantly lower immune response to the flu vaccine than those not taking the drug. The most dramatic decrease was seen in those taking synthetic statins
In a second study focusing on respiratory illness protection, Emory University researchers analyzed nine flu seasons between 2002 and 2011. They looked at data on flu vaccination, statin prescriptions and respiratory illness among 140,000 patients at a Georgia care facility. After adjusting for certain factors, they found respiratory illness protection was lower in those using statins, particularly when the flu was widespread.
The findings could have implications for guidelines for flu vaccine recommendations, statin use in older adults around the time of vaccination and future vaccine clinical trials in seniors.