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Scientists Are Working To Make Your Annual Flu Shot A Thing Of The Past

flickr / Pan American Health Organization PAHO

The CDC recently reported that only 2 out of 5 Americans have received flu shots this season. That’s not too surprising. After all, 2 out of 5 Americans are parents who can’t figure out which thermometer in the drawer was used in someone’s butt. How could they expected to do anything preventative?

But what if your family could get a one-and-done flu vaccine (or at least something close to that)? Good news! Scientists are currently working on it. They’ve also made some great advances in thermometer technology, FYI. (Also, just write “rectal” with a sharpie on the one for butts already.)

The main players in the influenza game are viruses A and B. Typically epidemiologists predict 3 to 4 strains of each every year. The problem is that vaccines target the head of these viruses, which change constantly, much like a Cleveland Browns QB. This makes coming up with a universal shot more challenging than drafting someone to save your team in the first round. Which is why epidemiologists need new vaccines all the time … Because frankly, some of them turn out to be as effective as Johnny Manziel. Which is to say, not effective at all.

Doctor Spaceman 30 Rock flu shot

But Barney Graham, deputy director of the Vaccine Research Center at the National Institute Of Allergy And Infectious Diseases, feels things are changing. He told The Washington Post that modern molecular technology has advanced enough to tackle the virus in a different way. Some researchers are working to target parts of the virus that remain more consistent with time, such as the stalk. Another team of scientists built a new virus and created a vaccine based on its “conserved regions.” And yet another group of eggheads came up with a multiyear vaccine using the genetic sequences of flu strains over the past 100 years. (Have the Browns thought of that?)

For now, experts aren’t sure if it’s possible to create one influenza vaccine that will last a lifetime per se. But they’re optimistic that these advancements could lead to a shot that lasts 5 to 10 years, which should still save you some time and Tamiflu. Regardless, the urgency to come up with something better suggests one thing: These scientists probably have kids.

[H/T] The Washington Post