When flu strikes, why are some family members reduced to shivering wrecks under their duvets, while others get off with little more than a snuffle?

Scientists now have an answer, showing that the generation you belong to – and even the year of your birth – predicts how vulnerable you will be to a given strain of seasonal virus.

The flu virus a person first encounters as a child, they found, leaves a permanent “imprint” on the immune system, giving them robust protection against similar strains and much weaker protection against less closely related varieties of the illness.

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