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Could Cholesterol-Lowering Statin Drugs Hurt a Flu Shot’s Effect?

November 13th, 2015

A popular cholesterol-lowering drug, taken by about 28 percent of U.S. adults over 40 and 48 percent of those over 75, may interfere with the effectiveness of flu vaccines, researchers report.

Two studies find that statin drugs may reduce the body’s immune response to the vaccine in older people, who already have a lowered immune response, NBC News reported.

In one of the studies, a team at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital looked at data from 7,000 people over the age of 65 who got flu vaccines over nine years. Those who took statins produced fewer virus-fighting antibodies after vaccination, they reported in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

The researchers say their reports are meant to kick off more investigation — not to make people worry about taking statins when they get their flu shots. But they may help explain why flu vaccines often work so poorly among older people.

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