You know how dangerous the flu can be for a young, healthy person, and you probably know that it can be deadly for infants and seniors. It’s important to get a flu shot, but what if they don’t work? A new study in Cell Host & Microbe talks about the truth about flu shots and seniors.
The Truth About Flu Shots and Seniors
The study found that your B-cells, which fights infections, weaken as you get older. What this means is that you can’t fight off the flu as well as you used to.
Most vaccines depend on your B-cells responding to work. This could be the reason why flu shots don’t work in seniors.
The team from the study looked at how B-cells and antibodies from adults between the ages of 22 to 64 and seniors aged between 71 and 89. The team compared how they responded to the latest flu vaccine.
The B-cells in younger people were able to recognize the mutations of the virus and create protective antibodies. Older people’s B-cells did not do so well with the constantly changing flu virus.
Their B-cells were stagnant and the antibodies they made were less diverse and less powerful. Essentially, they are unable to change with the times and are getting left behind.
Interestingly, seniors’ B-cells were great at fighting against flu mutations of the virus from their childhood. Younger people were not able to fight against older mutations.
Does Science Know Why This Happens?
Why this happens is currently unknown. Though researchers have noticed that people between 50 and 70-years-old had occasional dips in their influenza fighting power. The steepest drops happen after your 70s.
Even though they don’t work as well, it’s still important for seniors to get flu shots. A shot can reduce the chance of catching the flu by 40 to 60% in the general population, and seniors’ percentage is a little below that.
Make sure you and the people around you get their flu shots as soon as they can.
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