By Megan Acton - Program Manager, International Federation on Ageing
New research suggests that the same vaccines that protect older adults against influenza and pneumonia may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers at the University of Texas searched through medical records of around 9,000 people 60 years old and older, and found that those who had at least one flu shot were 17% less likely to have Alzheimer’s disease, and those who had regular influenza vaccination reduced their risk by an additional 13%.
Researchers at Duke University and the University of North Carolina also examined medical records of close to 5,000 people aged 65 years and older and found that those who received vaccination against pneumonia before the age of 75 had a 25% less chance of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Experts in the field of cognition found these research findings surprising, with Dr. Paul Schulz, Director of the Neurocognitive Disorders Center at McGovern stating,
"To have these guys come out and say, well it looks like getting the vaccine is associated with less [Alzheimer's] was totally the opposite of what any of us thought."
Further research has demonstrated that vaccine preventable diseases such as influenza may other have secondary protective effects, especially for adults with chronic disease, that information can be found in the IFA’s report, The Secondary Benefits of Influenza Vaccination.
This is a fascinating development and if you are a journalist covering this subject – then let our experts help.
• Dr. Mine Durusu-Tanriover is a professor of internal medicine in Hacettepe University School of Medicine (Ankara, Turkey) and the author of more than 40 peer-reviewed articles, with expertise in adult vaccination.
• Dr. Samir Sinha is a passionate and respected advocate for the needs of older adults, with expertise in adult vaccination, public policy, quality of care, and frailty. Dr. Sinha's breadth of international training and expertise in health policy and the delivery of services related to the care of the elderly have made him a highly regarded expert in the care of older adults.