Washing your hands well and often is a good defence against the flu, and so is the right vaccine.
Flu season is still on, and hopefully you’ve had your vaccine for added protection. If you’re a senior, you may feel like the shot doesn’t exactly do what it should, though.
And there’s a good scientific reason for that.
“…when a newly circulating influenza virus infects elderly individuals, they don’t have quite the right tool to fight it because their antibodies are not as protective,” says senior study author Patrick Wilson of the University of Chicago.
A recent study done by Wilson and colleagues found that the antibodies of elderly patients are weaker and less capable of providing protection against the flu virus for a few reasons.
They only target conserved proteins and structures in the virus. They also have antibodies with fewer mutations compared with younger people. This makes it harder for the elderly to fight off evolving viral strains of the flu.
Of course, it’s always a good idea to get your flu shot, but Wilson and his team are hoping the new findings can make a difference.
“More recent vaccines developed especially for the elderly population are now on the market and could help induce more protective antibodies,” Wilson says. “The next step will be to evaluate antibody adaptability in elderly individuals immunized with these vaccines.”
For more on this study, click here.