Enhancing Immunogenicity of Influenza Vaccine in the Elderly through Intradermal Vaccination: A Literature Analysis

Huy Quang Quach, Richard B. Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Aging and immunosenescence lead to a gradual decline in immune responses in the elderly and the immunogenicity of influenza vaccines in this age group is sub-optimal. Several approaches have been explored to enhance the immunogenicity of influenza vaccines in the elderly, including incorporating vaccine adjuvant, increasing antigen dosage, and changing the route of vaccine administration. Method: We systematically compared the immunogenicity and safety of influenza vaccines administered by intradermal (ID) route and either intramuscular (IM) or subcutaneous (SC) routes in older adults aged ≥ 65. Results: Of 17 studies included in this analysis, 3 studies compared the immunogenicity of ID vaccination to that of SC vaccination and 14 studies compared ID and IM vaccinations. ID vaccination was typically more immunogenic than both IM and SC routes at the same dosage. Importantly, a minimum of 3 µg of hemagglutinin antigen could be formulated in an ID influenza vaccine without a significant loss of immunogenicity. ID administration of standard-dose, unadjuvanted influenza vaccine was as immunogenic as IM injection of adjuvanted influenza vaccine. Waning of influenza-specific immunity was significant after 6 months, but there was no difference in waning immunity between vaccinations in ID, IM, or SC routes. While ID vaccination elicited local adverse reactions more frequently than other routes, these reactions were mild and lasted for no more than 3 days. Conclusions: We conclude that ID vaccination is superior to IM or SC routes and may be a suitable approach to compensate for the reduced immunogenicity observed in elderly adults. We also conclude that the main benefit of ID influenza vaccine lies in its dose-sparing effect. Additional research is still needed to further develop a more immunogenic ID influenza vaccine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2438
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • administration route
  • immunogenicity
  • influenza vaccine
  • intradermal vaccine
  • intramuscular vaccine
  • older adults
  • subcutaneous vaccine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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