Younger Adults Can Protect Older People From Flu Infection
Healthy adults who get the annual flu vaccine reduce their own risk of catching flu. But a new study suggests they also help to protect older people.
People aged over 65 are a priority target group for flu vaccination because the risk of suffering serious complications from influenza rises with age. See your doctor about getting your vaccination for this year’s flu season.
This year a new influenza vaccine that protects against four different strains of the virus will be released after a record number of reported cases last year
“There were 90,000 reported flu cases in 2015, that’s 25,000 higher than the previous record, so we know that more people are getting the flu,” Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley said.
Experts have been exploring new ways to protect vulnerable older people from flu. In addition to encouraging everyone over 65 to be vaccinated annually, vaccinating other people in the community helps to reduce the risk of the disease spreading to those at risk.
In the UK, for example, a childhood flu vaccination programme is helping to curb the rate of flu infections in children but also protects their grandparents and other senior members of the community.
Now, a new study in Clinical Infectious Diseases, a scientific journal, shows that when younger adults – aged between 18 and 64 – are vaccinated, the risk to older people is reduced. This adds to the case of building herd immunity against flu outbreaks.
The US-based researchers behind the new study looked at data from more than 3 million people across eight flu seasons. They found that over 65s were 21% less likely to be diagnosed with flu-related illness if they lived in areas where more adults under 65 were immunised.
The study showed that if around one in three adults between the ages of 18 and 64 were vaccinated, they could spare some older people the pain, discomfort and cost of serious illness or