Flu vaccine: Antibiotics would reduce efficacy - The360 Healthy

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  • Thursday, November 28, 2019

    Flu vaccine: Antibiotics would reduce efficacy

    Flu vaccine: Antibiotics would reduce efficacy

    By weakening the intestinal microbiota, antibiotics would reduce the effectiveness of the influenza vaccine, according to the results of a new scientific study. 


    Conducted with healthy adults, a new US scientific study published in Cell on September 5 suggests that taking antibiotics could reduce the effectiveness of the flu vaccine.

    Disruption of the intestinal microbiota induced by antibiotics would make the immune system less able to develop a response to the vaccine, and to arm itself to fight against the flu virus, the researchers said.

    The study in question is actually based on previous work, conducted by the same team in the mouse. Scientists there discovered that mice raised since birth so as to be devoid of intestinal flora did not develop an immune response following vaccination as strong as "normal" mice, with a gut microbiota.

    To find out if these findings are equally valid in humans, the researchers conducted several experiments, including one, conclusively, with a small sample of 11 people of the same age. Scientists have voluntarily selected individuals with low levels of antibodies against influenza to indicate that they have had low exposure to previous influenza viruses or previous vaccines. None of these 11 participants had been vaccinated against influenza in the previous three years. Five participants received broad-spectrum antibiotics, that is, acting on a wide variety of bacterial species, for five days, including three before vaccination and one after. The remaining six participants served as controls and therefore did not receive treatment. All were then vaccinated against influenza (this was the 2015/2016 influenza season).

    Results: People treated with antibiotics had a slight increase in the concentrations of the most important type of antibody in the fight against the influenza virus. They were therefore less protected than people who did not receive antibiotics before the vaccine was given.

    "The study indicates that when it comes to responding to vaccination against an infectious pathogen already encountered, our immune system is remarkably resilient, even in the face of severe depletion of intestinal bacteria," said Pr. Pulendran, researcher at Stanford University School of Medicine (United States). However, the immune system "seems to lose this resilience when confronted with a vaccine containing new pathogens to which it has not been or previously exposed," says the researcher.

    The latter suggests to people wishing to be vaccinated against influenza to postpone the injection of a few days in case of antibiotic treatment, but especially to be vaccinated every year, to increase its "inventory of immune memory". So that the immune system is able to act even when the intestinal microbiota is weakened by antibiotics.

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