NOV 22, 2017 09:35 AM PST

Why This Year's Flu Shot Won't Protect You Next Year

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Each year, health officials zealously launch flu shot campaigns, aimed at vaccinating people against the influenza virus. But unlike other viruses, such as those causing measles and mumps, the flu virus mutates too quickly for the vaccine, which is why we have to get the shot every year.

To make a seasonal flu vaccine, every year scientists intensely study the health prospects in the Southern Hemisphere during its winter, which is still summer for us. Based on the viral strains circulating in that region, the scientists predict the flu strains that would make its way to our neck of the woods (the Northern Hemisphere) come winter. Because there are several strains of the influenza virus, what scientists predict will circulate can sometimes be different than what really does circulate. In such mismatch scenarios, the protection rate of the flu shot is lowered.

Of note, scientists are working to create a universal flu vaccine, which would recognize a common genetic portion of the flu virus that is immutable. This means no matter how the virus mutates from season to season, strain to strain, a single shot could protect us all.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
SEP 10, 2018
Videos
SEP 10, 2018
Is The Human Brain Programmable?
The brain is often referred to as a computer. Researchers have tried for years to make artificial intelligence as fast and efficient as the human brain, bu...
SEP 10, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
SEP 10, 2018
Here's How Long it Takes Your Garbage to Decompose
  Humans produce an unbelievable amount of waste, most of which either go on to be recycled or heads to the landfill to decompose. But have you ever w...
SEP 20, 2018
Videos
SEP 20, 2018
A Plant 'Nervous System' is Found
Learn more about how plants communicate....
SEP 25, 2018
Videos
SEP 25, 2018
Post-Hurricane Bacterial Threats
Natural disasters like hurricanes are dangerous when they occur, and their aftermath poses another set of problems....
OCT 03, 2018
Videos
OCT 03, 2018
Understanding Brain Aneurysms
A brain aneurysm is a medical emergency, but many patients don’t understand much about them. First, it’s not the same a clot. An aneurysm is wh...
OCT 06, 2018
Videos
OCT 06, 2018
Learning More About the Genetics of Depression
Volunteers in the UK are participating in the largest study on the biological causes of depression that has ever been conducted....
Loading Comments...