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Does Statin Use Reduce Influenza Vaccine Response?

Clin Infect Dis; ePub 2018 Oct 27; Havers, et al

Among adults in the US, influenza vaccine effectiveness (VE) against laboratory-confirmed illness was not affected by current statin use. Researchers compared influenza VE in statin users and nonusers aged ≥45 years enrolled in the US Vaccine Effectiveness Network study over 6 influenza seasons (2011‒2017). Participants presented to outpatient clinics with acute respiratory illness and were tested for influenza. Among the findings:

  • Among 11,692 eligible participants, 3,359 (30%) were statin users and 2,806 (24%) tested positive for influenza virus infection.
  • 78% of statin users and 60% of nonusers had received influenza vaccine.
  • Influenza VE was 36% among statin users and 39% among nonusers, after adjusting for influenza confounders.
  • Statin use did not modify the effect of vaccination on influenza when analyzed by type and subtype.


Havers FP, Chung JR, Belongia EA, et al. Influenza vaccine effectiveness and statin use among adults in the United States, 2011–2017. [Published online ahead of print October 27, 2018]. Clin Infect Dis. doi:10.1093/cid/ciy780.


The fact that statin use does not decrease influenza vaccine efficacy is not surprising. There were studies in 2015 that proposed a decreased response to influenza vaccine in patients on statins. The study out of Emory found that patients in a large managed care organization were more likely to seek care for a respiratory illness if they had received the influenza vaccine. These studies had a lot of methodologic flaws, namely that patients who received the influenza vaccine tended to have more medical conditions. It does make sense that those who are on statins have a higher immunization rate since they will have at least 1 medical condition that they would be interacting with their physician. —John Russell, MD