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Bill_Lumbergh's avatar

Is it possible to have an immunity to the flu?

Asked by Bill_Lumbergh (1458 points ) January 13th, 2014

Not to boast, but I rarely get sick! (I guess I am boasting) I can count on one hand how many times I have been sick in my life, whether it’s from the common cold, flu virus, or an infection that might require antibiotics. I have no real knowledge of the human immune system, but there must be some biological explanation why some of us simply do not get sick.

Listen, I am not claiming to be Bruce Willis’s character from Unbreakable, although I have developed a “superhero” like courage around people who are seriously ill.

Yes, I do get my annual flu shot, eat healthy, and wash my hands daily, but so do most of my family and friends, yet they come down with an illness a 2–3 times a year.

Am I the “outbreak monkey”?! Am I getting everyone else around me sick?!

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17 Answers

dxs's avatar

I hope you knocked on wood before posting this…

YARNLADY's avatar

Some people have better immune systems than others. My husband hardly ever gets sick either, even when around others who are sick.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Yes, of course there is viral immunity. I’m not sure that anyone really understands it, though. Look at the Great Epidemic of 1918. Tens of millions of people died of the flu, but many people didn’t even get sick. There has to be something that let them avoid being infected.

Another example is polio – which is also a virus. Millions contracted polio in the 20s and 30s – an millions didn’t. Why?

So it’s absolutely possible that your system just has better protection from some viruses. Lucky you.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Bill_Lumbergh I’m the same way, rarely even get a cold, haven’t for years. This year I did get a flu shot because the local doc here basically called me out for being Typhoid Mary, but I’m curious to see if anyone has a logical answer for this.

I work with the general public so I’m around all kids of people, never use hand sanitizer, and eat fairly healthy, wash my hands several times a day with hot water and soap, only take one medication for family history of cholesterol, that’s it. I am a very low stress person, and rarely eat out in restaurants (where I hear you get lots of germs.) Additionally, I keep my house fairly clean and dust-free, have two dogs and two birds. I’m a little ocd about germs, but don’t make a big deal about it, but I’d never eat at a buffet or anything.

Let me know if you see thing’s in common.

Rarebear's avatar

I did NOT! :-)

Adagio's avatar

My mum (75) has never had the flu in her life.

Crumpet's avatar

When I read the question I thought of a funny anecdote about Bruce Willis’ character from Unbreakable. You already mentioned it and now I’m devastated. I suppose I’ll just have to answer your question…

Some people have better immune systems than others.

jca's avatar

Many people have never had the flu and never had a flu shot either (raises hand).

ibstubro's avatar

I was largely invincible as long as I smoked.
Once I quit I started getting the flu regularly, and other sensitivities.

I think a lot of it has to do with your stoic quotient. I’ll bull through an illness without slowing down, while I know people that will pile in bed with a sniffle.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Rarebear I THINK I’m glad you did! So do you have an answer to this Q?

Rarebear's avatar

@KNOWITALL Yes. You can have partial immunity, but not complete.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Rarebear What gives you the partial immunity though, something in our blood, dna or ?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’ve had what I would call the flu 3 times in my life, all before the age of 20.

My kids came down with something very similar, bang, one after the other, several years ago. I tended to all of them and never got sick. My oldest was about 20 at the time, major Drama Queen. She came down with it last. She didn’t live at home, but I put her to bed here to take care of her. She, however, decided SHE was dying and took herself to the ER, against my strong advice, where they simply kept her hydrated and in bed. I think she’s still paying that stupid bill off.

ibstubro's avatar

^^ Apparently contrariness can play a part, @KNOWITALL.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@ibstubro lol, if that were true, I think more would be immune.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Hell, you’d never die April!

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Dutchess_III You know that’s right!! It’s in my dna though on both sides of the family, I had no chance to be a good submissive little woman…ha!!

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