A recent study from UTHealth Houston found that over the course of four years, people who had at least one influenza vaccination were 40% less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease than the non-vaccinated people.
Avram S. Bukhbinder, MD, a recent graduate of UTHealth McGovern Medical School, and Paul E. Schulz, MD, the Rick McCord Professor in Neurology at McGovern Medical School, conducted research comparing the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease in patients with and without prior flu vaccination in a sizable national sample of U.S. adults 65 and older.
The study’s preliminary online edition is accessible ahead of its publication in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in August 2022.
According to the study, getting the flu shot reduces an older person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease for several years.
The rate of acquiring Alzheimer’s was lowest among those who regularly received the flu shot each year; the strength of this protective effect increased with the number of years that a person had an annual flu vaccine.
The study examined a much larger sample than previous studies, including 935,887 flu-vaccinated patients and 935,887 non-vaccinated patients. It was conducted two years after UTHealth Houston researchers discovered a potential association between the flu vaccine and a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
About 5.1 percent of flu vaccine recipients were discovered to have Alzheimer’s disease at four-year follow-up visits. Meanwhile, during follow-up, Alzheimer’s disease had manifested in 8.5% of the unvaccinated patients.
According to Bukhbinder and Schulz, these findings highlight the flu vaccine’s potent defence against Alzheimer’s disease. However, further research is needed to fully understand the underlying mechanics of this process.