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Flu shot remains ineffective among obese adults

India TV Lifestyle Desk New Delhi 08 Jun 2017, 16:28:48 IST
India TV Lifestyle Desk

People get an annual flu shot against any deadly diseases to remain protected from diseases. This is the most common precaution against diseases like influenza. However, it is not an effective way for everyone. According to the latest study carried out by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA, the scientists set out to look at the effectiveness of the vaccine on people suffering from obesity. It is already known that there is a risk of death due to influenza.

The study was done on 1,022 adults which included people who were a healthy weight, overweight or suffering from obesity, and who were receiving seasonal inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV3) during the earlier influenza season; i.e., 2013-2014 and 2014-2015. Lab tests and symptom reports were used to confirm whether the people participated developed flu or experienced influenza like illness. The reports were also measured to which degree their bodies produced influenza-fighting antibodies following vaccination.


All the participants received the vaccine but only few percentage of participants managed to become ill. However, when looking at the obese group, the team found that these participants were twice as likely to develop influenza or flu-like illnesses as those in the healthy weight group, with 9.8 per cent of obese participants showing confirmed influenza or influenza-like illnesses, compared with 5.1 per cent of those of healthy weight. Melinda Beck, the study’s co-author, suggested that the flu shot might not be as effective in obese people. This is because their T cells do not function properly, which support the protection and recovery from flu. The team have also found earlier that obese people have impaired T cell responses to influenza vaccine. After using a blood serum tests to look at the participants’ levels of antibodies, which build up in the body to fight off an infection such as influenza, the team found no differences in the levels of antibodies between vaccinated participants with flu symptoms and those without, or between obese participants and healthy weight participants.