Greg Poland, MD, on The 3 Things You Need to Know About Vaccination in the Elderly


Dr Gregory Poland, from Mayo Clinic, Rochester, speaks about his 3 takeaways for what you need to know about vaccination in the elderly population.

Gregory Poland, MD, is a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, director of the Mayo vaccine research group, and editor in chief of Vaccine



Dr. Greg Poland:  Hello, everybody. My name is Dr. Greg Poland. I'm a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. I'm the director of the Mayo Vaccine Research Group and the editor‑in‑chief of the journal "Vaccine."

Infectious Diseases Consultant:  What are the three big takeaways about immunizations in older adults that our audience should keep top of mind?

Greg Poland:  First of all, I'd focused on the big four. Influenza, pneumococcal, zoster, and Tdap ‑‑ tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis. The second is that these vaccines are designed not necessarily to completely prevent disease but to prevent the complications of these diseases. That's what causes the morbidity and mortality in older adults.

The third thing is, what we're interested above and beyond the immediate prevention of those complications is durability of the immune response. That happens to be a big issue with the new zoster vaccine of superior durability compared to the live‑attenuated vaccine. I think we can say the same thing about pneumococcal vaccine.

Influenza vaccine, we still have a problem with. I have to administer it every year because of a strain drift that occurs and the necessity for new formulation of vaccine. Soon you'll see a universal vaccine that we may not have to give as often.

In some way, I think the big thing is we're used to treating disease. That seems to be our focus. I think we need to take an equally large focus on the whole sphere, the whole domain of preventing disease. These are common diseases. They are morbid diseases. We have safe and effective vaccines with which to prevent them.