A research team at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada suggests that getting vaccinated regularly now can protect us from other diseases later. Prof. Dawn Bowdish, who holds a Canada Research Chair on Aging and Immunity, has been digging into the reasons older people are more prone to other illnesses after getting the flu. She concludes the inflammation linked to the flu and other respiratory illnesses doesn’t really go away, and contributes to things like dementia, cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. Bowdish’s research is focused on mice because they most closely model the human immune system. Lab tests show when elderly mice received flu vaccines early in life, they were healthier and less likely to get other chronic illnesses as seniors.
The flu study undertaken by McMaster University researchers focused on mice because they most closely model our immune system. But old mice that were never immunized not only got other diseases sooner, but when they were hit with the flu, it accelerated the progress of those diseases in the long term.