The Nature of Immune Responses to Influenza Vaccination in High-Risk Populations

The current pandemic has brought a renewed appreciation for the critical importance of vaccines for the promotion of both individual and public health. Influenza vaccines have been our primary tool for infection control to prevent seasonal epidemics and pandemics such as the 2009 H1N1 influenza A virus pandemic. Certain high-risk populations, including the elderly, people with obesity, and individuals with comorbidities such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, are more susceptible to increased disease severity and decreased vaccine efficacy. High-risk populations have unique microenvironments and immune responses that contribute to increased vulnerability for influenza infections. This review focuses on these differences as we investigate the variations in immune responses to influenza vaccination. In order to develop better influenza vaccines, it is critical to understand how to improve responses in our ever-growing high-risk populations.