The burden of disease during seasonal influenza epidemics is felt most keenly among the very young and the elderly. Although vaccination effectively protects children and young adults against infection, it has limited efficacy in elderly individuals. This has been linked to a reduced ability to induce a robust serum antibody response. In this issue of the JCI, Sasaki et al. identify some of the cellular and molecular deficits that underlie the reduced serum antibody response induced by influenza vaccination in elderly individuals. Importantly, they show that it is the quantity of the response, and not its quality, that needs to be improved if we are to enhance the success of influenza vaccination in this vulnerable population.
Bonnie B. Blomberg, Daniela Frasca