Rapid Decline of Influenza Vaccine—Induced Antibody in the Elderly Is It Real, or Is It Relevant?

Skowronski, Danuta M.; Tweed, S. Aleina; De Serres, Gaston
February 2008
Journal of Infectious Diseases;2/15/2008, Vol. 197 Issue 4, p490
Academic Journal
Advisory committees have cautioned that influenza vaccine-induced antibody declines more rapidly in the elderly, falling below seroprotective levels within 4 months. We conducted a literature review to assess this assertion. The articles that were included in this review reported antibody levels ≥4 months after influenza immunization in persons ≥60 years old, interpretable in the context of annual influenza vaccine-approval criteria (seroprotection/seroconversion) specified by the Committee for Proprietary Medicinal Products (CPMP) for the elderly. The final review included 14 studies; 8 of which reported seroprotection rates. Seroprotection exceeding CPMP criteria was maintained ≥4 months after influenza immunization in all 8 of the studies reporting this for the H3N2 component and in 5 of the 7 studies reporting this for the H1N1 and B components. In determining whether CPMP criteria were met at season's end, primary antibody response appeared to be more relevant than secondary antibody decline. Both studies reporting seroprotection rates that failed CPMP criteria ≥4 months after influenza immunization for each of the H1N1 and B components had also reported failed seroprotection at 1 month after immunization. If initially achieved after immunization, seroprotection rates of 70%-100% were maintained not just at 4 months (2 studies) but also at 5 months (2 studies) and even at >6 months (4 studies), for the H3N2 and H1N1 vaccine components. Seroprotection rates appeared less consistent for the B vaccine component, throughout the postimmunization period. Seroconversion appears to vary substantially and inversely with preimmunization titers but not with age. In 2 of 6 studies reporting seroconversion alone, CPMP criteria were still met at 4 months. In the other 4 studies, the main reason for failure at 4 months was primary failure at 1 month. A total of 6 studies compared antibody persistence by age, and no consistent differences were found on that basis. The historic concern that the influenza vaccine-induced antibody response in the elderly declines more rapidly and below seroprotective levels within 4 months of immunization should be reconsidered.


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