Flu vaccinations may be more effective when administered in the morning, a study from the University of Birmingham has found.
The study measured 276 adults aged over 65 who were vaccinated against three strains of influenza. They were given the vaccine either between 9am and 11am or between 3pm to 5pm.
The study found that in two of the three given influenza virus strains, those in the morning cohort saw a significantly larger increase in antibody concentration one month following vaccination, when compared with those in the afternoon cohort. In the third strain, there was no significant difference between morning and afternoon.
‘We know that there are fluctuations in immune responses throughout the day and wanted to examine whether this would extend to the antibody response to vaccination,’ said Dr Anna Phillips, the principal investigator of the study from the school of sport, exercise and rehabilitation sciences at the University of Birmingham. ‘Being able to see that morning vaccinations yield a more efficient response will not only help in strategies for flu vaccination, but might provide clues to improve vaccination strategies more generally.’
The team responsible for the study have announced that they will conduct a follow up, to examine if morning vaccinations have benefits for with conditions such as diabetes, liver and kidney disease that impair immunity.
Professor Janet Lord, co-investigator on the study from the institute of inflammation and ageing at the University of Birmingham, said: ‘A significant amount of resource is used to try and prevent flu infection each year, particularly in older adults, but less than half make enough antibody to be fully protected. Our results suggest that by shifting the time of those vaccinations to the morning we can improve their efficiency with no extra cost to the health service.’
It has been highlighted by other experts that the research is still in its early stages, and should not form the basis of clinical recommendations until more research is done. 'The results are interesting but it should be emphasised that the clinical importance of the findings is not clear at this point – this is preliminary research' said Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics, University of Bristol.