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Expert Rev Vaccines. 2008 Mar;7(2):249-58. doi: 10.1586/14760584.7.2.249.

Influenza and respiratory syncytial virus in the elderly.

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  • 1Birmingham Research Unit of the Royal College of General Practitioners, Lordswood House, 54 Lordswood Road, Harborne, Birmingham B17 9DB, UK.


Respiratory infections are one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide: influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are the predominant pathogens responsible. Annual vaccination and the use of antiviral drugs provides both protection and treatment against influenza, particularly protecting those patients most at risk, including the elderly and individuals with chronic comorbidities. Currently, there are extremely limited options in the protection against RSV infection, making those at-risk patients vulnerable to serious disease, complications and death. This review focuses on recent trends in respiratory illness in the elderly, particularly focusing on the burden of influenza and RSV on hospitalizations and mortality. We discuss the potential benefit of influenza vaccination on these outcomes, including the recent controversial debate over the effectiveness of influenza vaccination.

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