It's great to have lots of friends, right? Well, if you're Ms. Popularity, you'd better be getting your flu shot, because there's a new study that shows that popular people get the flu first.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School asked a random group of students who their friends were, and then looked at those people who were mentioned at least once. The most popular people, those who were at the center of social networks, ended up getting the flu about two weeks earlier than the campus as a whole.
It makes sense that people with more social contacts would end up getting sick faster; the more people you're around, the more germs you get exposed to. But it made me think about what other traits put you right in the flu virus cross hairs:
You lead a healthy lifestyle: Every single boozehound nicotine addict I know sails through the winter without so much as a sniffle. Meanwhile, the healthy, vegetable-eating, sensible sorts get laid up for at least a week. Apparently viruses like Whole Foods and gyms and hate bars.
You educate our youth: Teachers get sick constantly the first few years they're in the classroom, from what I hear from my teacher friends, because kids are little disease vectors. Adult-heavy, less pro-social professions like investment bankers probably never, ever get sick.
You're a devoted parent: See "kids are disease vectors" above. The first two years my daughter was in preschool, she had a runny little nose literally all winter long, and guess who was right there along with her? The recipient of all her sloppy little kisses and disposer of all her tissues ... ME, that's who.
You work in a "hands-on" profession: I have been helped by the following people with runny noses and scratchy throats just recently: hair stylist, grocery checkout clerk and nurse. It's no fun to be all "oh wow, I love the color, thanks" at the same time I am thinking "KEEP YOUR GERMY HANDS AWAY FROM ME, SNIFFLY."
You're so incredibly busy you cannot, possibly, remotely, afford to get sick: Invariably, if I have 13 million deadlines, am booked solid on the weekends, and absolutely none of those balls can get dropped without major disaster, that's when I suddenly start feeling run-down and stuffed up. And start muttering "mind over matter, mind over matter" until things slow down or I keel over, whichever is first.
In all seriousness, people who are pregnant, taking care of little children or old people, or otherwise have compromised immune systems are at higher risk for the flu and should talk to their doctor about getting a flu shot.
When are you guaranteed to get sick?
Image via anna gutermuth/Flickr