Could a person's immune system be built eventually to be able to inject all the known strains with in to stay immune?

closed as primarily opinion-based by anongoodnurse, David, The Last Word, James, Muze Jan 26 at 16:23

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Your premise is wrong to begin with. It's absolutely not true that everybody eventually catches the flu. – TG2 Jan 23 at 13:52
  • Please edit your title so that it gives a better indication of what aspect of influenza it concerns. This saves people time and, unless this question is removed (as being hypothetical), is more useful for indexing. – David Jan 23 at 14:10
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    OP literally said "Eventually you will catch the flu." in the first version of his question, check his edit history. That was what I originally replied to. OP then edited his question after my comment to instead say "Eventually most will catch the flu.". That is a completely different claim and I already explained this in the previous comments. It doesn't do you any good to be confrontational and accuse me of not reading when you yourself haven't done so. – TG2 Jan 24 at 7:06
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    It's perfectly fine to edit your question to be more clear, @Muze. There is nothing wrong with that. Perhaps in the future a small edit note at the bottom will help people. – TG2 Jan 24 at 7:14
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    @Muze - if you try ordering some of the bad strains of influenza, you'll very quickly find yourself being visited by large, serious men with bad haircuts and suits. This is not a good idea to follow up. – iayork Jan 24 at 15:40
up vote 2 down vote accepted

The question is whether being exposed "to all strains of influenza" would make one immune to all strains of influenza. No, and it's not possible to expose oneself to all strains of influenza in the first place.

It might be technically possible to expose yourself to all subtypes of influenza, if you limited to the hemagglutinin subtypes, of which there are 18. But subtypes are not strains; a strain is an antigenic variant of a subtype, and there are tens of thousands of such variants. Even if you somehow managed to expose yourself to every known strain, presumably by injecting yourself every few hours for years (you probably don't want to literally expose yourself to all the strains of flu, because some of them have mortality rates well over 50%, so you'd be dead before you were immune), new strains arise literally every minute of every day.

And because of vagaries of the immune system that are too complex to get into here, immunity to some strains prevents immunity to some others (one review is Immune history and influenza virus susceptibility), so it's either very difficult, or perhaps intrinsically impossible, to get complete immunity.

There's work being done on overcoming these problems with "universal" influenza vaccines, and your best bet is to wait until some of these are available.

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    I had no idea that immunity to some strains can prevent immunity to others! Nice to learn something new! – LinuxBlanket Jan 23 at 21:19

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