Vaccine Trials Should Not Overlook Older Adults

The health news website STAT News reports that some vaccine experts criticize the fact that older adults were largely left out of the clinical trials for the new RSV vaccine. This despite the fact that among adults, RSV poses the biggest threat to the oldest seniors and people with certain preexisting health conditions. The trials for the vaccines, shots which have now been recommended for adults age 60 and older, included few participants age 80 and older or those who live in nursing homes. Two geriatric infectious diseases specialists noted that some vaccine trials don’t include the oldest adults even when they’re the target demographic for the vaccine being tested. They say it does make sense for researchers to start trials by enrolling healthy adults, since unforeseen safety issues generally pose less risk than they might for older and/or frail adults. But they added that it’s important to study vaccines in older adults and people with health conditions not just because they’ll be the key recipients of many immunizations, but also because immune systems age and often can’t mount as robust responses to vaccines as younger immune systems. They also noted that similar to the Covid vaccine development, an RSV vaccine was developed and tested on a fast track to help reduce anticipated infections and deaths, but speed need not always be the top priority if it limits the types of people who should be in clinical trials.

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