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Flu Vaccines For The More Susceptible: Not Age But Birth Year Determines Degree of Infection [VIDEO]

Update Date: Nov 19, 2016 03:22 AM EST
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Flu vaccines in the future may be developed to specifically target the more susceptible, which is not just the elderly or those with weakened immune systems, but those who were not exposed to the virus when they were young. Study says that it is not the age, but the birth year, that will determine how much a person will get sick from the dreaded Influenza in every flu season.

It is already established that there are more vulnerable groups when it comes to the flu and these are the elderly, 65 years old and above, small children and those with compromised immune systems due to underlying medical conditions. However, a recent study indicates that there are also another group of susceptible people, those who were not exposed to the virus when they were children.

Michael Worobey of the University of Arizona and lead author of a new study discovered that "it's not the age, it's the birth year that matters" as reported in The Guardian. The flu virus that an individual has been exposed to in his youth largely affects how that same person reacts to the virus as an adult.

Influenza A is the most common virus circulating in modern times and this has two subtypes, namely, type 1 and type 2. Before 1968, there was only type 1, which evolved into type 2 in the years 1968 to 1979.

Thereon, the two subtypes were alternating season after season, with either one sitting it out for more than a year before making its rounds again. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) employ predictive methodologies on developing flu vaccines by predicting how the 2 subtypes alternate between seasons, but the technology is far from perfect.

Worobey and his team analyzed medical data as far back as 1918 and compared medical reports to the birth year of the patients. They discovered that persons who were exposed to the type 1 flu virus have a 75 percent chance of not getting infected. If they do contract the virus, there is a good 85 percent chance that they will not die from it.

This is because they have developed antibodies when the virus left a permanent "imprint" on their bodies as reported by WebMD. These antibodies are backed up by "cell-mediated immune system" that helps the body remember the foreign invader and then react appropriately.

The significance of the study is that future flu vaccines can be developed to target specific groups of people. In this way, hospitalization and even death can be reduced or prevented.

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