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Vaksin untuk Populasi yang Menua

SEATTLE – Populasi dunia semakin bertambah banyak – dan menua. Populasi lansia sudah hampir melampaui jumlah penduduk yang lebih muda – pada tahun 2050, jumlah populasi berusia 65 tahun ke atas dapat berjumlah tiga kali lebih banyak dari pada populasi yang berusia di bawah empat tahun – banyak orang khawatir bahwa beban anggaran pemerintah, sistem layanan kesehatan, dan ekonomi menjadi terlalu besar sehingga tidak lagi dapat dipenuhi pemerintah. Tetapi, sesungguhnya ada yang dapat dilakukan guna meringankan beban tersebut: yaitu dengan meningkatkan kesehatan para lansia.

Ketika kita menua, tubuh kita mengalami perubahan yang kompleks yaitu, di antaranya, semakin melemahnya kemampuan tubuh untuk mengatasi infeksi dan membangun imunitas (hal ini disebut immunosenescence). Itu sebabnya mengapa suatu penyakit ketika diidap oleh orang dewasa yang lebih tua cenderung menjadi lebih parah, dan lebih besar dampaknya terhadap kualitas hidup, disabilitas, dan mortalitas, jika dibandingkan dengan dampak yang dialami pasien yang lebih muda ketika mengidap penyakit yang sama.

Sederhananya, sistem imunitas orang dewasa yang menua membutuhkan bantuan tambahan. Kebutuhan ini yang dapat dijawab oleh vaksin.

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