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Flu Vaccine and the Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease

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Posted on July 22, 2022
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We advocate for annual flu vaccination for the simplest of reasons; to keep you and your loved ones out of the hospital and away from serious health risks. When we think about those serious health risks it’s easy to dismiss that there are risks to your health long after you have recovered from a serious flu infection. As we’ve seen in the case of COVID-19, a virus can continue to affect our health and quality of life long after the acute infection is over. According to recent data from the Household Pulse Survey

“more than 40% of adults in the United States reported having COVID-19 in the past, and nearly one in five of those (19%) are currently still having symptoms of “long COVID”

Historically, there hasn’t been much discussion about “long influenza” but there is a similar effect in play here. In some cases, a serious flu infection can lead to increased risk of other infections and conditions, some of which are very concerning. As advocates for the prevention of serious flu infection we were interested to read new reporting about a correlation between flu vaccination and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The reason for this correlation hasn’t been established yet, but the study found that

“adults…who had received at least one influenza inoculation were 40% less likely than unvaccinated peers to develop [Alzheimer’s disease] over the course of 4 years.”

We should be clear that the data show a correlation between vaccination and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease, not that flu vaccines cause a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease, but the finding is compelling and speaks to the need for further research connecting preventative health measures like vaccination and later health events both positive and negative. The human body is an endlessly complex environment and the long-term health of each of us depends on many factors. It is possible that there may be causation between the flu vaccine and prevention of other illnesses, but for today, we can say that Americans who receive a flu vaccine may also be less likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease; one more reason to schedule a flu vaccine each fall.

 

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