There has been some debate as to whether having the flu provides better immunity against flu in the future as compared to the flu shot. This is because when people acquire the flu, they develop antibodies that protect them for future infections by the same strain of bacteria. The same immunity can be acquired through a flu shot. The question is: Which way is better to boost immunity against the flu?
Once the flu virus is inhaled, it enters the body and initiates an immune reaction with formation of antibodies. The next time the flu virus enters the body, the immune system initiate a robust antibody response to kill the virus. This protection is only offered to the same strain of flu virus but the protection in most cases is life-long. There is sufficient evidence that shows that antibodies were still present in the blood of seniors after a flu that was acquired in the 1930.
Numerous studies show that even though this antibody response will rise and fall, the immunity to a natural infection lasts longer than that from a vaccine. In one study published in 2011, it was noted that just about 50% of individuals who were infected with the H1NI flu still had an antibody response after 6 months, whereas only 30% of individuals who have been vaccinated had the response.
So why is the immunity after a vaccine not better? Experts indicate that acquiring the flu can provide much stronger immunity than the flu shot. But getting the flu is not only unpleasant; it can also be dangerous in some people.
The first thing is that a natural infection does make people very sick- they miss work, school, feel terrible for 7-14 days and many end up in the emergency room or even the hospital. Elderly people, pregnant women, and young children can even die. In addition, the natural immunity to one strain of flu virus will not protect against most other strains of the virus and each year there is a different strain of the flu virus. Viruses quickly change from year to year and thus the flu vaccine has to be updated each year. Finally there is no guarantee that after an infection you will develop a long lasting immune response.
So the bottom line is that if you want to protect yourself from the flu, go and get vaccinated. This is the season for the flu vaccine shot and it does protect nearly 50-60 percent of people from the infection.