Advanced age is one indicator of likely immune dysfunction. As worldwide, the global population contains progressively more and more older individuals there is likelihood of an increased prevalence and incidence of infectious diseases due to common and emergent pathogens. The resultant increase in mortality and morbidity would be matched by the risk of functional decline and disability. Maintaining immune function at a plateau throughout life may therefore be associated with considerable cost savings. The aim of improving immune function in older individuals may be achieved through considering a therapeutic approach to rejuvenate, stimulate or support the indigenous immune system to perform in a more optimal manner. In terms of cost effectiveness a therapeutic approach may prove difficult because of issues associated with; identifying those who would benefit the most from this treatment, identifying the type of treatment which would suit them and identifying whether the treatment was successful. The alternative of supporting or providing a stronger stimulus through vaccination, whilst more cost effective, may be a more valuable option in the short term. Both approaches will be addressed in this review.
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