Elderly patients who have been inoculated with the influenza vaccine and who also use a statin are at a greater risk for medically attended acute respiratory illness, according to a study published in Vaccine.

The researchers conducted a retrospective cohort study using data from Taiwan’s National Health Insurance Research Database to analyze the relationship between 440,180 elderly patients (age ≥66 years) who were vaccinated against the influenza virus. Researchers compared the participants’ statin usage with his/her risk of medically attended acute respiratory illness.

Overall, participants who used statins and those who did not had similar baseline characteristics, but individuals who used statins were more likely to be female (59%) and to have had a myocardia infarction, cerebrovascular disease, or diabetes when compared to individuals who did not use statins. Participants who used statins were at a higher risk for medically attended acute respiratory illness (OR 1.03; 95% CI, 1.02-1.05); this was statistically significant for participants between the ages of 66 and 74 years (OR 1.04; 95% CI, 1.02-1.07; P <.01). Simvastatin and lovastatin had the highest risk for medically attended acute respiratory illness (OR=1.14, 95% CI, 1.10-1.18; OR=1.18, 95% CI, 1.12-1.25, respectively), while fluvastain had a reduced risk for medically attended acute respiratory illness (OR .93; 95% CI, .89-.98).

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Future studies are needed to compare these results to individuals not vaccinated against influenza, as well as to evaluate potential confounding variables (ie smoking), control for the use of the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine, and explore the specific mechanisms for differences in individual statin risk levels.

The researchers concluded that their study “suggests that statin use is associated with a 3% increase in the odds of having [medically attended acute respiratory illness] among the elderly who received influenza vaccines.”

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This study was supported by the National Taiwan University Hospital. Please refer to reference for a complete list of authors’ disclosures.


Chiu HT, Shen LJ, Chen YC, Lin JH, Wang CC. Effect of statin use on the risk of medically attended acute respiratory illness among influenza vaccinated elderly. Vaccine. 2018;36(41):6133-6137. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2018.08.067.