Common drugs might hurt flu shot effectiveness, studies show

Statins may reduce the efficacy of flu vaccinations in seniors, according to new research.

Two studies analyzed the effect of statin use on the immune responses of elderly patients who have received a flu shot. Results of the first study, conducted by researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, showed statin users, especially those on synthetic statins, had significantly reduced immune response compared to those not on the drugs.

The second study, conducted at Emory University, looked at the potential impact statin use had on the flu vaccine's effectiveness at preventing respiratory illness. Results were similar to those of the first study: Vaccines were less effective in those patients who took statins.

Statins are prescribed for high cholesterol. Researchers said while the studies' results have potential implications on guidelines for statin use and flu vaccinations, they shouldn't change how physicians care for their patients until further research is completed.

Results of the studies were published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.