In DepthInfectious Disease

Why is the flu vaccine so mediocre?

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Science  22 Sep 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6357, pp. 1222-1223
DOI: 10.1126/science.357.6357.1222

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  • RE: Response to the flu vaccine and the microbiota
    • Silvio Pitlik, Physician, Visiting Scientist, Weizmann Institute of Science
    • Other Contributors:
      • Nina Pitlik, Pharmacologist, The Tel-Aviv Academic College

    Emerging research indicates that the composition of the microbiota has an important effect on the immune response of the host to specific vaccines including those against the flu. For example, the gut microbiota produces flagellin that after absorption, acts as a natural adjuvant, individualizing the strength of the immune response to a vaccine (Immunity, 41 350-1, 2014). Obese mice and humans as well as pregnant women have a diminished response to flu vaccines, probably due to a distinct gut microbiota composition (Microbiome, 5:64 1-4, 2017). We propose that further studies on the efficacy of flu vaccines should take into account the individual composition of the gut microbiota.

    Competing Interests: None declared.

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