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Flu Vaccine Slightly Less Effective in Patients on Statins

Research suggests cholesterol-lowering meds linked to lower levels of influenza antibodies in seniors

THURSDAY, Oct. 29, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Two new studies raise the possibility that statins may blunt the effectiveness of flu vaccines in seniors. The research is published online Oct. 28 in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

In the first study, Steven Black, M.D., of the Center for Global Health in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and colleagues looked at the medical records of 6,961 individuals over the age of 65 in the United States and three other countries. They had all taken part in a 2009 to 2011 clinical trial of a flu vaccine. The researchers looked at the results of tests taken three weeks after the study participants were vaccinated.

The researchers found that levels of antibodies to influenza were 38 to 67 percent lower in those who took statins, depending on the type of flu strain. The effect appeared more pronounced for synthetic statins.

In the second study, Saad Omer, M.B.B.S., M.P.H., Ph.D., an associate professor at the Emory Vaccine Center in Atlanta, and colleagues looked at cases of medically attended acute respiratory illness among 137,488 Kaiser Permanente health plan patients in Georgia. The researchers tracked the patients over flu seasons from 2002 to 2011. The findings suggest that “if you are on statins, the flu vaccine is slightly less effective,” Omer told HealthDay.

The first study was supported by Novartis Vaccines; several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, including Novartis.

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