Vaccine effectiveness in older individuals: what has been learned from the influenza-vaccine experience

Ageing Res Rev. 2011 Jul;10(3):389-95. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2010.09.005. Epub 2010 Oct 1.


Vaccination policies in most high-income countries attempt to reduce the adverse impact of influenza targeting people aged at least 60 years. However, while it is widely believed that the current immunization strategy saves many lives, influenza infection still remains a severe burden in aged individuals leading to a wide debate on the exact magnitude of the benefit of vaccination in this population. The first aim of the present review is to examine how effective current influenza-vaccine strategies are in aged adults, by analysing which are the most important factors modulating the interpretation of study results in this population. Furthermore, consideration will be given to how immune factors influence the measurement of vaccine efficacy/effectiveness, where advancing age leads to deleterious changes in the adaptive immune system, resulting in less than optimal responses to infectious agents and vaccination. Finally this review concludes with possible strategies to improve the ability of the senescent immune system to respond to vaccination.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity / physiology
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Influenza Vaccines / therapeutic use*
  • Influenza, Human / immunology
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Influenza Vaccines