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Local researchers weigh in on science behind vaccinations tied to lowering Alzheimer's risk

Local researchers weigh in on science behind vaccinations tied to lowering Alzheimer's risk
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July 27, 2020

Alzheimer’s Association Contact, 401.421.0008,
AAIC 2020 Press Office,
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CHICAGO, JULY 27, 2020 — Flu (influenza) and pneumonia vaccinations are associated with reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease, according to new research reported at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference® (AAIC®) 2020.

Three research studies reported at AAIC 2020 suggest:
  • At least one flu vaccination was associated with a 17% reduction in Alzheimer’s incidence. More frequent flu vaccination was associated with another 13% reduction in Alzheimer’s incidence.
  • Vaccination against pneumonia between ages 65 and 75 reduced Alzheimer’s risk by up to 40% depending on individual genes.
  • Individuals with dementia have a higher risk of dying (6-fold) after infections than those without dementia (3-fold).

"The long term benefits of vaccinations are well known, but these findings are monumental in potentially showcasing their overall impact on an individual's health," said Donna M. McGowan, Executive Director, Alzheimer's Association Rhode Island Chapter. "With the current state of our world through the COVID-19 pandemic and the efforts to create a vaccine, this discussion is particularly relevant."

The study showing that being vaccinated for flu and pneumonia lowers the rate of Alzheimer’s disease provides new encouragement to maintain our health as we age," said Stephen Salloway, M.D., M.S., Director of Neurology and the Memory and Aging Program, Butler Hospital, Martin M. Zucker Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Professor of Neurology, Alpert Medical School of Brown University. "Further work needs to be done to understand how these vaccinations protect us from Alzheimer’s disease.”  
“With the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines are at the forefront of public health discussions. It is important to explore their benefit in not only protecting against viral or bacterial infection but also improving long-term health outcomes,” said Maria C. Carrillo, Ph.D., Alzheimer’s Association chief science officer.
“It may turn out to be as simple as if you’re taking care of your health in this way — getting vaccinated — you’re also taking care of yourself in other ways, and these things add up to lower risk of Alzheimer’s and other dementias,” Carrillo said. “This research, while early, calls for further studies in large, diverse clinical trials to inform whether vaccinations as a public health strategy decrease our risk for developing dementia as we age.”
 For further abstract on this research and for interviews with Rhode Island researchers and Alzheimer’s Association staff please contact Eric Creamer at 401-859-2334 or email at

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