Why do we get sick despite drugs and vaccines? We lose immunity with age

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A weakened immune system will not respond properly to the vaccination. This is especially true of the elderly and the chronically ill. Immunologists say that with age, the immune system “wears out” – explains prof. Piotr Trzonkowski, immunologist from the Medical University of Gdańsk.

Prof. Piotr Trzonkowski shared his thoughts during a debate organized by the Foundation for Polish Science entitled: “Why do properly vaccinated people sometimes suffer from COVID-19?”. He recalled the effect of aging – as a natural process that influences the effectiveness of medical treatments, including vaccination.

Immunologists say that as you age, your immune system “wears out”. As we age, we lose the thymus – the organ that produces T cells – responsible for cellular immunity in the body. They too help build immunity after vaccination.

He also mentioned another mechanism that regulates the response of the immune system – the so-called “The body’s pro-inflammatory readiness.”

Older people have a high level of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the body, responsible for the so-called “Cytokine storm”. If we were to compare a 20-year-old and an 80-year-old, the normal, physiological levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in an 80-year-old are so high that they would cause sepsis in a 20-year-old. So the willingness to enter a cytokine storm and hemorrhagic pneumonia after infection is much greater. These are the reasons why elderly people react poorly to vaccinations, and when they start to get sick, they get seriously ill “- explained the immunologist. He also recalled that the main role of the vaccine is to protect against hospitalization and death. “There has been a study conducted on 100-year-olds in Italy that showed the elderly get sick, but the vaccine – in this case the flu vaccine – protects them from dying. prof. Trzonkowski explained prof. 

In his speech, the expert also discussed the cases of young people suffering from chronic diseases, whose immune system does not respond to vaccination. 

Here the conditions are dictated by the nature of the disease. In some patients who are taking immunosuppressants, the immune system will not respond because the drugs stop it working. The immunologist said.

In turn, prof. Michał Witt, geneticist and molecular biologist, director of the Institute of Human Genetics of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Poznań – points out that medicine has not found such drugs that would work 100%. Therefore, you should not expect 100%. the effectiveness of any vaccine.

Medicine has not found such drugs that would work 100 percent. We’d love to do that, but it hasn’t happened yet. We know that vaccines on the market have a limited mode of action. We know that the flu vaccine is 40-60 percent effective, the tetanus vaccine is 90 percent effective, and the pertussis vaccine is 70 percent effective. These ranges are different in each case.
prof. Witt mentioned

He also added textbook information on genetics to help understand why everyone responds differently to medications and vaccinations.

Genetics says that each of us is different and each of us has a different equipment – a different genetic profile – also in terms of genes that determine immune resistance. Therefore, we react differently. You also have to take into account the lifestyle we are at and what other diseases we are struggling with. The immune system does not work the same all the time – it has its ups and downs – depending on how and what it is attacked (e.g. with other infections). Prof. Michał Witt said.

Source : Niezalezna.pl, PAP Mediaroom, Science in Poland