September 25, 2007
Flu Vaccines Do Not Reduce Old Age Deaths

Widespread use of influenza vaccines haven't lowered death rates among old folks.

Researchers are questioning how much the flu vaccine prevents flu-related deaths among older people, saying it may provide less protection starting around age 70, as immune systems decline with age.

In a review article in the October issue of Lancet Infectious Diseases, researchers including Dr. Lisa Jackson, a senior investigator at the Group Health Center for Health Studies, say evidence that all older people should get flu vaccines is weak.

Read the full article for the details.

The problem is rickety old immune systems.

A further piece of research found that over-65s produced only half or a quarter of the antibodies to flu vaccines that younger people did. Vaccination coverage has risen steeply in the US, from 15% of the target population in 1980 to 65% today, they write. But there has been no matching drop in influenza deaths.

We need the ability to rejuvenate our immune systems. In particular we need a way to kill old immune cells that are too worn out so that healthier immune cells can take their place. Plus, we need the ability to grow replacement thymus glands. All of this will come with time. But we could get these advances sooner if we pushed harder for them.

For most of the remaining unconquered diseases we aren't going to cure them or prevent them without developing the ability to do rejuvenation on each portion of the body which malfunctions with each disease. Attempts to cure the many diseases and disorders of old age will inevitably lead to efforts to rejuvenate various malfunctioning parts of the body. Successful efforts to rejuvenate various parts of the body will lead us to the point where we can fix so many parts that full body rejuvenation becomes possible.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2007 September 25 05:31 PM  Aging Studies

jim said at September 26, 2007 10:17 AM:

so we need to vaccinate the spreaders of flu-- kids, public workers, if we want to reduce elder deaths

Hopefully Anonymous said at September 26, 2007 10:35 AM:

Just a comment that I greatly appreciate what you're doing. I think this is the key meme of our times: "All of this will come with time. But we could get these advances sooner if we pushed harder for them." We're racing against an unforgiving deadline. We should really be pushing the petal to the metal. Now's not the time for widespread leisure-based economic waste, in my opinion.

Randall Parker said at September 26, 2007 8:42 PM:

Hopefully Anonymous,


Yes, when the stakes are enormous now's not the time for a complacent society. This is what people do not get: The stakes really are enormous right now. They weren't enormous 50 years ago. We were so far away from achieving breakthrus that there was no reason to feel a sense of urgency. But now the complacency is extremely costly.

Your response serves as a reminder: I need to make this argument more explicitly. What we do instead of chasing after rejuvenation therapies has huge opportunity costs.

Matthew said at September 27, 2007 3:39 AM:

We can get it sooner and outcome will defeat ideology. It's easy to say, much harder to achieve. I am going to try harder to focus on outcomes. We all should.

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