Statins May Dampen Response to Flu Vaccine
Statins, the cholesterol lowering drugs, may weaken the effect of the flu vaccine, two new studies suggest.
One analysis, led by Dr. Steven Black of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, used data from a larger study of the 2009-10 and 2010-11 flu seasons. Researchers measured blood concentrations of flu antibodies in 5,584 vaccinated people older than 65 who used statins and 1,377 who did not. In those taking statins, antibody concentrations, depending on the type of flu virus, were between 38 percent and 67 percent lower.
The second study involved 137,488 people, most under 65, and found that vaccinated people taking statins were more than 11 percent more likely to get a respiratory disease severe enough to seek medical care than people who weren’t on statins. The researchers suggest that the beneficial anti-inflammatory properties of statins decrease the immune system’s response to the flu vaccine. Both studies are online in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.
The lead author on the second study, Saad B. Omer, an associate professor at the Emory Vaccine Center in Atlanta, said that nothing in these studies should lead to immediate changes in practice.
“Even with the diminishing effect, flu vaccines remain the most effective tool to prevent influenza, including in the elderly,” he said. “They’re not perfect, but nobody should skip their flu vaccine.”