Every winter we’re told it’s a good idea to get the flu shot. But exactly how many times are we going to get the flu? A new study shows that most people over age 30 will get the flu twice over a ten-year period.
The study, which was carried out by researchers at Imperial College London in the United Kingdom, was based on an analysis of blood samples from volunteers in southern China. The researchers focused on nine different types of the flu detected in this region between the late 1960s and 2009.
Overall, it was a massive and unprecedented undertaking says Dr. Adam Kucharski, who contributed to the study and now works at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. “This is the first time anyone has reconstructed a group’s history of infection from modern-day blood samples,” Kucharski said.
The study showed that, once people reached age 30, they were likely to get the flu twice every decade. So, how are people getting the flu? Kucharski says there are multiple factors to consider.
“There’s a lot of debate in the field as to how often people get flu, as opposed to flu-like illness caused by something else,” Kucharski said. “Symptoms could sometimes be caused by common cold viruses, such as rhinovirus or coronavirus.”
Looking forward, Kucharski believes the study will help researchers understand the flu and how it can be effectively countered. “This information helps us understand the susceptibility of the population as a whole and how easy it is for new seasonal strains to spread through the population,” Kucharski said.