With every seasonal mirth comes a seasonal malady. For every cherry blossom that brightens up the landscape, there’s a rogue sneeze waiting to tear the bloom asunder (there is a way to save those pedals, try this sneeze-halting trick). And for every scarlet leaf that lands on every manicured lawn, there’s a cold-weather sniffle waiting in the wings. Or worse, a full-fledged flu virus. (If needles aren’t your thing, try out one of these natural remedies for your cold and flu woes.)
Mother Nature has quite a bit in store this year—first, she throws a historically intense hurricane season our way, then a predicted doozy of a flu season. But why is the flu a yearly concern? We receive lifetime vaccinations for smallpox, chicken pox, and meningitis, but every single season there’s a need for a new flu shot. According to the Mayo Clinic, it has to do with the unique nature of the flu virus.
The flu that threatened to infect you in the fall of 2008 may be essentially the same as the one that tried to breach your defenses in the winter of 2015, or it might not be. Each year, the flu vaccine which is doled out is the most prevalent strain threatening the public at that time, so your previous season’s flu more than likely will not cut it. And even if your vaccination was for the correct strain, the flu virus family is incredibly adaptive, and mutations can slice right through your immune system’s defenses. (For an in depth visual explanation, check out the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s full infographic here.)
Staying up to date on your vaccinations each year will provide a complete siege wall to stave off the flu. And while you wait in line at the clinic, stay informed with some light reading on flu prevention, knowledge can be your ideal reinforcements.