Why Do We Need Yearly Flu Shots, but Not Measles Shots?

This episode of SciShow is supported by NordVPN. Head over to nordVPN.com/SciShow to learn
more about virtual private networks and internet security. [♪ INTRO ] The number of diseases we’ve beaten back
using vaccines is truly impressive. But when it comes to beating back viruses
themselves, our track record is actually… a lot less consistent. Take measles. It’s a severe, highly contagious disease
that used to be considered an inevitable part of childhood until vaccination was introduced
in 1963. The measles vaccine saves millions of lives,
and according to the CDC, two doses is usually enough to protect kids for life. Influenza is a nasty bug too. But unlike measles, which is known as the
poster child for lifelong immunity, influenza is the only vaccine-preventable disease that
requires a fresh shot every year. C’mon flu, why can’t you be more like
measles and let us fight you off with just a couple of doses? What makes these two viruses so different
that we can fend off one of them permanently in one or two steps, while the other requires
constant vigilance? It has to do in part with the structure of
these viruses, and how mutation causes them to change. The measles virus is shaped kind of like a
ball covered in spikes. And those spikes are proteins, named mico
and fusion proteins, or H and F for short, which help the virus latch onto a host cell
and infect it. And if H or F undergo a genetic mutation,
the measles virus suddenly gets much worse at infecting. Researchers are still studying the details
of how this works in measles, but the genetic sequence of the virus determines the structure
of those proteins. And if that structure changes even a tiny
bit, in measles, they appear to stop working. The point of any vaccine is to trigger the
immune system to create antibodies to specific disease-causing agents, which then lie in
wait to fend off microbes with the same antigen if and when they invade the body in the future. And in measles, these H and F proteins can’t
change. Which is pretty great for us, because we just
need to produce one vaccine, and that’ll pretty much work for everyone, forever. In fact, the vaccine we use today was developed
using a strain of measles that was first isolated from a young boy in 1954. And it still works really well!, because measles
today still looks enough like measles from 1954 that the same antibodies still work to
fend off the illness. Influenza viruses, on the other hand, are
the quick-change artists of the viral world. Like measles, the types of influenza our vaccines
target have two kinds of protein spikes. Hemagglutinin, or HA, helps the virus bind
to the host cell. There’s also neuraminidase, or NA, which
helps release viruses from the host cell. HA and NA together make up the HN formula
we name flu strains after — like H1N1. But unlike its counterpart in the measles
virus, HA mutates a lot. Mutations change the shape of this protein,
and it changes so quickly that an antibody that worked for one subtype of flu can’t
recognize the shape of other variants. Our once-a-year flu vaccines trigger production
of antibodies to the head of the HA protein, which reaches out from the surface of the
virus like a bunch of tiny mushrooms growing on a roughly ball-shaped virus. These antibodies work by blocking the HA protein
from binding to host cells. But like the measles virus, flu virus HA proteins
mutate all the time, causing slight changes in their structure, while still retaining
their ability to infect us. And the fact that the structure is constantly changing means the same antibodies can’t
recognize the HA molecules on different strains of flu from one year to the next. A truly universal flu vaccine — a one-time
vaccine that would be effective across all strains — is widely considered the holy
grail of vaccine research. One big piece of the puzzle is the stem of
the mushroom-shaped HA protein. Unlike the rapidly-changing head, the stem
remains largely unchanged from year to year. If only our antibodies could reach it. Because that mushroom head seems to get in
the way. In researching the H1N1 pandemic of 2009,
scientists found something unexpected. They realized that people who got the 2009
version of the flu shot made more antibodies than they would have predicted to the HA mushroom
stems. And surprisingly, those antibodies were able
to recognize and immobilize several strains and subtypes of flu. It turns out that the particular strain of
H1N1 circulating that year had a head that was about 30% different from previous strains,
which has led scientists to hypothesize that being exposed to HA proteins with different
kinds of head structures somehow redirects the body’s immune response to make antibodies
that bind to the stems. So, developing vaccines that target the stem
of HA has since been a major focus of universal vaccine efforts. One approach is a vaccine that targets the
HA stem, in combination with NA, which has shown to protect against a lethal strain of
flu in mice. Another promising approach uses antibodies
from … llamas. Turns out llamas produce antibodies that are
smaller than ours, which allows them to squeeze past the HA head and bind to the stem. This approach also proved successful in mice. But the candidate furthest along in the quest
for a universal shot is called M-001, and it’s slightly different. It targets very short segments of the HA protein
that are known not to change. And it’s making its way through clinical
trials. Ultimately, the process behind creating a
universal flu vaccine could end up being a lot like how we made the measles vaccine. It’s just that the flu makes things far
more difficult, and hides the parts we can target really well. Meanwhile, we’ll stay thankful for our lifelong
immunity to measles, and keep getting those annual flu shots. They’re still a lot nicer than the flu. Vaccines can protect us from real-life viruses,
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to learn more. [ ♪OUTRO ]

100 thoughts on “Why Do We Need Yearly Flu Shots, but Not Measles Shots?

  • So I'm all for parents getting there kids vaccinated, but I haven't had a flu shot since before I can remember, so over 20 years (I'm 25) and I rarely get sick besides an occasional head cold. Honestly don't see the point of yearly flu shots. Commenting before watching.

  • I've never gotten the flu shot and I've never gotten influenza. (Not anti-vax, just don't subscribe to the flu shot personally)

  • Anti-vaxxers are a new epidemic.

    If you know someone who's an anti-vaxxer, I hope you're even able to report them for refusing to protect their child with vaccinations.. probably not.

  • Why are there always so many dislikes on Olivia's videos? I don't get it. The videos she hosts aren't any different than the other videos, guys…

  • Perhaps scishow could tell people why vaccines contain aluminium, mercury, formaldehyde and fetal cells? Almost as if you're trying to make people ill, isn't it?

  • Flu shots are so useless. The flu virus mutates every year so even if you get the shot chances are you will just get sick from a different strand.

  • I had no idea periodic flu shots were a thing. I guess where I live we just kind of decided to suck it up and risk getting the actual flu once in a while.

  • Why do people down vote videos like this? Is it an emotional response or something that is incorrect in the video they are responding to?

  • My cells can’t get sick since they are sentient. They have minds more powerful than the highest quality of intel chips and a intelligence beyond your imagination, they memorize and recognize things in such a high level you would think they were super computers. They have devoted their lives to be my slaves until I die and kill any cell who dares to commit treason.

  • I get a fever, regardless of getting a shot or not (haven't even seen the face of a doctor in the last 3 years). Not really sure if it's flue or not. Never took a day off, never been stuck to the bed. I don't take any medication for fever or headache. They simply go away. Not really sure why. Guess I need to perform some proper experiment on my body. Let me know if you have any hypothesis.

  • Vaccines are a disgrace to my spartan white blood cells, My white blood cells like their kills fresh and healthy so they can leave them like the Persians and behead their arrogant king who thought they could invade this body of mine.

  • The cure to all things will be tiny nanobots that go around with tiny lasers zapping anything bad within the body

  • The title is a loaded question, such as: ''why did you kill your wife?'' It is highly doubtful whether or not we need yearly flu shots.

  • Or make sure to have a daily diet of garlic, cruciferous vegetables, and citrus fruits to protect against ALL strains of flu?? Flu shots only protect against certain strains, right? Purely personal experience, but the majority of those I know who have received the flu shot get ill every winter with bad colds/flus, and if older, suffer more long term bronchial infections. If the active ingredient allicin in garlic is potent enough to kill MRSA, several types of bacteria that cause food poisoning, and improve blood flow, it is logical it can help fight the flu and its many types when combined with a relatively healthy diet.

  • So, in theory, if we made a drug that can damage/break/distort the heads of HA in such a way that would make the stems accessible, people would be able to make their own multistrain antibodies against the stems, and use them in the presence of the drug?

  • as a healthy fin i skip those 😀
    an old folk saying is ''Jos ei viina, terva ja sauna auta, niin tauti on kuolemaksi.''
    If booze, tar and sauna wont help… then the disease cause death.
    Eat natural and dont wash your hands every time.
    Be pro-active and remember sauna often.
    well if ur adult and in good shape these would be enough

  • Why the wardrobe change? She also looks less happy? Not trying to criticize he appearance, let her wear what she is comfortable in. It feels like they tried to tone her down.

  • Creative criticism here: no glasses, no dumb piercing and this is watchable! Congrats on reverting to normal human being

  • I love having a good immune system. I take it for granted to often. Never cleaning out cuts, eating things that fall on the ground. I’m almost never sick and never get vaccinated.
    Thank you mom for letting me play in the mud and get dirty. Not against vaccination, just sayin

  • I may be naive (biology is not my science of choice) but I'm of the mind, if you don't use it you'll lose it:
    I don't bother getting the flu shot because I think, for a healthy young person, its better for the body to fight it on its own. The flu hits me for about a week or two around September then gone for the whole year so I don't mind it.
    Anyone know a significant scientific fault in this reasoning?

    Just in case, pro-vax! Man ain't got time for the 10-odd diseases I'm juiced for

  • SicShow: Another promising approach uses antibodies from llamas.

    Flu Virus: A llama!? BUT HE’S SUPPOSED TO BE DEAD!

  • I am an anti anti vax. I would like to take the shot yearly but I am a little bit afraid because I never got the flu since I was a child.

  • I never get a shot and I never get sick or the flu! Super human immune system!! I even almost cut off my pinky on a old rusty manwich can! Saw the bone and cartilage and nerves and tendons And my pinky healed back to my hand without going to the dr to get it stiched up! Like good old wolverine lol! Great video by the way!

  • Promoting the narrative has nothing to do with actual science. How about calling yourself propaganda-show, or perhaps pharma-show, or money-show.

  • Before having seen the video, my guess would be that influenza viruses have a shorter lifespan than measle viruses. They therefore evolve much faster, so you're basically vaccinating against a completely new flu virus every single year.

  • The Flu shot is a waste of time because Flu strains change too quickly. I'm 46 and don't recall ever having the flu, and the same goes for the rest of my family. I never had a Flu shot.

  • I'd like to hear the story of the scientist who first thought : "Ok. Let's try llamas' antibodies on mice and see what it does."

  • I would like to know what is in the flu vaccine (specifically) But also in other vaccines… all the extra stuff like preservatives, etc. Just wondering.

  • Since you are mentioning measles…..it's on the rise again because of gaps in the vaccination coverage. It should be alarming to the anti-vaxxers…probably not.

  • I look forward to the day we have a universal flu vaccine. I still have some unanswered research question that I've been asking for over 10 years: 1. Are people who get the flu vaccine less likely to wash their hands because they believe their immune? 2. How effective is washing hands and wearing an Asian style mask at preventing the transmission of influenza? 3. How many deaths are attributed directly to influenza per annum https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/flu-deaths-reality-check-1.1127442

  • I never get flu shots, never have, and question the validity of them. I'm anti antivaxx, I got all the regular ones. I like the explanation of how the influenza virus changes and why you would need to change your vaccine according – but I have my doubts about how they can effectively test each new one every six months. It's like a program you just add an update patch to. The rigorous testing they do for all the other vaccines just doesn't have time to be done between each new flu shot. Then of course there's the anecdotal, but very numerous number of, stories I heard where people relate only ever catching the flu in years/seasons they got talked into getting the shot.

  • Literary everyone I know has the flu allmost every year, but I have never had it even once. One time, my mom, dad, brother and my two sisters were sick with the flu while I was unaffected😎

  • So why were able to irradicate smallpox with vaccines but nothing else? It seems weird things like polio and the plague and measles are even a thing now.

  • DON'T get the shot. The people that make it will tell you that it MAY NOT help even IF you get [email protected]@!!! AND this shot does NOT Guarantee it will protect you. Don't get it until you reasearch it. These Shots and Vax'es are NOW very Harmful to humans. They are NOT made in america. The globalist's that are trying do DOWN SIZE the number of people on this earth by Billions. When you research, make sure you listen to Both sides. I do know the more you know the more you will get upset, sorry.

  • The other 3 members of my family all get the flu shot every year. They all got the flu. I did not. Illuminati confirmed.

  • The reason you need the flu shot ever year is because there are too many people and the scientists need to eliminate all the gullible ignorant sheeple . The flu shot can kill you and cause GBS. It's also only 18% effective so common all you sheeple, make big pharma richer and get the flu anyway after getting the shot 😉🖒

  • It's a bit annoying that I always get the flue a month or so before the vaccine is available (I live in a country with universal healthcare so it's free for all of us if go on and ask for it)

  • Why can't we make one shot that includes all possible HN permutations? Wouldn't we then have antibodies against all strains?

  • Wot
    I'm not having a shot every year, like no one in Spain has a shot every year (there is not such a thing as an anti-vax community in Spain, as long as I'm aware, so that's not the issue)

  • I hope that like me, everyone who played Plague Inc. looked at the title and immediately thought of three words:
    Mutation, mutation, and mutation.

  • Has Hank forgot to pay the heating bill agian? 😀 I like SciShow but I will never understand the dresscodes 😉

  • We don't NEED flu vaccines at all.
    This "Anti-anti-vaxxers" hype goes out of hand. Yiu guys have no idea what you're talking about!

  • Sooo…
    If I go to NORDVPN.COM/SCISHOW, I'll only get 2 years and 3 months of protection instead of 3 years? Doesn't really seem like a good deal to me. 😆😆

  • dude flue shots have ethyl mercury, mercury builds up in the body over time, i refuse to inject my self with harmful substances, saying ethyl mercury is safe is like saying compounds containing led are safe because it only contains a little led. also no mercury does not cause autism.

  • whistles innocently duuu da du du duu. if russian trolls end up quoting me like wildfire… whoops.

  • meanwhile im going to keep my immune response to unknown pathogens unmodified. i don’t even get sick from the flue, also dont tell me about carriers and what not, i don’t care.

  • saying ethyl mercury is safe is like saying led based compounds are safe because they arent led. also vaccinations are fine, mercury builds up in your body over time. so does led. mercury and ethyl mercury are tots fine

  • vaccinations can be against your religious views, if you are against freedom of religion, than move to china or have china move to america, they are an atheist country who harvest stuff from people they deem to be criminal

  • saying Ethyl mercury is safe is like saying led based compounds are safe because they aren't led.

  • Hank HERE IS THE CDC LIST OF SIDE EFFECTS www DOT cdc DOT gov/vaccines/vac-gen/side-effects DOT htm

  • Put the CDC information in the description To prove that vaccination is perfectly safe! which it is, can cause coma or death, perfectly safe.

  • We don't need yearly flu shots and no surprise you're parroting the CDC, which has been proven to have conflicts of interests with the pharmaceutical companies that make vaccines.

  • Clarification: While measles is the poster child for lifelong immunity, folks born between 1957 and 1989 are likely to have only received one dose of the vaccine. And that's less effective than the two-dose protocol we've used since 1989, so it can be good for those people to check with a doctor that they really did develop immunity.

  • My mom said I needed a flu shot because there was like an epidemic thing. 2 days later I got the flu and was so weak I couldn’t pick up a cup.

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