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J Clin Microbiol. 1991 Mar;29(3):498-505.

In elderly persons live attenuated influenza A virus vaccines do not offer an advantage over inactivated virus vaccine in inducing serum or secretory antibodies or local immunologic memory.

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  • 1Clinical Immunology Section, National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, Maryland 21224.


In a double-blind, randomized trial, 102 healthy elderly subjects were inoculated with one of four preparations: (i) intranasal bivalent live attenuated influenza vaccine containing cold-adapted A/Kawasaki/86 (H1N1) and cold-adapted A/Bethesda/85 (H3N2) viruses; (ii) parenteral trivalent inactivated subvirion vaccine containing A/Taiwan/86 (H1N1), A/Leningrad/86 (H3N2), and B/Ann Arbor/86 antigens; (iii) both vaccines; or (iv) placebo. To determine whether local or systemic immunization augmented mucosal immunologic memory, all volunteers were challenged intranasally 12 weeks later with the inactivated virus vaccine. We used a hemagglutination inhibition assay to measure antibodies in sera and a kinetic enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay to measure immunoglobulin G (IgG) and IgA antibodies in sera and nasal washes, respectively. In comparison with the live virus vaccine, the inactivated virus vaccine elicited higher and more frequent rises of serum antibodies, while nasal wash antibody responses were similar. The vaccine combination induced serum and local antibodies slightly more often than the inactivated vaccine alone did. Coadministration of live influenza A virus vaccine did not alter the serum antibody response to the influenza B virus component of the inactivated vaccine. The anamnestic nasal antibody response elicited by intranasal inactivated virus challenge did not differ in the live, inactivated, or combined vaccine groups from that observed in the placebo group not previously immunized. These results suggest that in elderly persons cold-adapted influenza A virus vaccines offer little advantage over inactivated virus vaccines in terms of inducing serum or secretory antibody or local immunological memory. Studies are needed to determine whether both vaccines in combination are more efficacious than inactivated vaccine alone in people in this age group.

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