Immunosenescence and herd immunity: With an ever-increasing aging population do we need to rethink vaccine schedules?

Pierre Olivier Lang, Richard Aspinall

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Vaccination is a powerful public health tool that has been of tremendous benefit in protecting vulnerable populations from specific infections. Moreover, in addition to the direct benefits to vaccinated individuals, the indirect effects of protection at the community level have also been demonstrated and termed 'herd immunity'. The predicted demographic shift in the population landscape towards an ever-increasing aging population and the evidence suggesting that older individuals produce less-than-optimal vaccine responses have raised the question of rethinking vaccine schedules. This article provides evidence that even if herd immunity might be an option to indirectly protect the aging and aged adult population, the highest priorities for the near future must be to understand how vaccine responses in older individuals can be improved, to break down the public, cultural, societal and political barriers to vaccination and to counter the antivaccination movement that inhibits the worldwide spread of lifelong immunization programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-176
Number of pages10
JournalExpert Review of Vaccines
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • aging
  • elderly
  • healthy aging
  • herd immunity
  • immunosenescence
  • vaccine effectiveness
  • vaccine program

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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