Two studies presented recently at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2020, indicate a possible connection between flu and pneumonia vaccines with reducing or delaying Alzheimer’s disease, as these infections cause a widespread inflammation that could impact brain health. 

Study 1

In the first study, a group of researchers at the McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston found out that people who get one influenza vaccination will have a lower prevalence of Alzheimer’s up to 17%, and people who continued to receive the vaccination over a period of years reduce their risk to 13%. The research also showed that the links between flu and Alzheimer’s vaccines were strongest for people who get vaccinated before 60 than those who got it after 70.

“More vaccinations meant less Alzheimer’s,” says Albert Amran, who is a medical student of the McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center.

Study 2

The second study, conducted by another group of researchers from the Biodemography of Aging Research Unit at Duke University Social Science Research Institute, looked at the pneumococcal vaccine, typically given after age 65 to fight infections such as pneumonia, meningitis, and sepsis. Researchers looked at the risk as a known genetic marker that increases the risk of Alzheimer’s. After looking closely at the health records of thousands of patients the study found out that if the flu and pneumonia vaccines are given between age 65 and 75, there is a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s by 25% to 30%, controlling for the effects of factors such as sex, race, education, and smoking. 

“This is an encouraging finding that builds upon prior evidence that vaccination against common infectious diseases such as the flu is associated with a reduced risk for Alzheimer’s and a delay in disease onset,” said Richard Isaacson, a neurologist at Weill Cornell Medical Center in an interview. 

But how something as cheap and easy as the flu and pneumonia vaccines shot has such a big impact of reducing or delaying cognitive decline is still unclear.