Statin Medications May Blunt Effectiveness of Flu Vaccines

HealthDay News — Two new studies raise the possibility that statins may blunt the effectiveness of flu vaccines in seniors. The research was published online October 28 in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

In the first study, Steven Black, MD, of the Center for Global Health in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and colleagues looked at the medical records of 6961 individuals aged 65 years and older in the United States and 3 other countries. They had all taken part in a clinical trial of a flu vaccine from 2009 to 2011. The researchers looked at the results of tests taken 3 weeks after the study participants were vaccinated.

The researchers found that levels of antibodies to influenza were 38% to 67% lower in those who took statins, depending on the type of flu strain. The effect appeared more pronounced for synthetic statins.

In the second study, Saad Omer, MBBS, MPH, PhD, an associate professor at the Emory Vaccine Center in Atlanta, and colleagues looked at cases of medically attended acute respiratory illness among 137 488 Kaiser Permanente health plan patients in Georgia. The researchers tracked the patients over flu seasons from 2002 to 2011. The findings suggest that “if you are on statins, the flu vaccine is slightly less effective,” Omer told HealthDay.

Disclosures: The first study was supported by Novartis Vaccines; several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, including Novartis.


Black S, Nicolay U, Del Guidice G, Rappuoli R. Influence of Statins on Influenza Vaccine Response in Elderly Individuals. J Infect Dis. 2015. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiv456

Omer SB, Phadke VK, Bednarczyk RA, et al. Impact of Statins on Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Against Medically Attended Acute Respiratory Illness. J Infect Dis. 2015. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiv457.

Atmar RL, Keitel WA. Influenza Vaccination of Patients Receiving Statins: Where Do We Go From Here? J Infect Dis. 2015. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiv459