After two consecutive years when influenza caused barely a ripple, our luck may finally run out this year.
Experts warn that the flu season has been particularly bad in the Southern Hemisphere, where winter soon will be drawing to a close. And many suspect that what happened down under is likely coming our way this fall and winter.
Australia just experienced its worst flu season in five years, with more than three times the normal number of cases. In addition, influenza peaked a couple of months earlier than it normally does.
Dr. John Brownstein, an epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital, tells ABC News:
“Obviously, it’s not a perfect 1-to-1 match but, more often than not, the severity of the flu season in Australia is a good correlate of what we might expect, and it helps us prepare.”
New Zealand also registered its worst flu season in two years.
The threat of a severe flu season is especially unnerving during a time when COVID-19 continues to circulate around the country and throughout the world.
Because the flu has been so mild the past couple of years, our bodies might not be ready for it. Dr. Jennifer Nayak, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, tells CNN:
“With these few mild flu seasons back-to-back, I think immunity in the population is probably lower than what it is entering an average flu season.”
If you are concerned about the flu’s potential impact this year, one of your best defenses is to get your annual flu vaccination. And if you are 65 or older, it might pay off to get one of three specific vaccines. Learn more in “3 Flu Shots Recommended for Seniors.”
Looking for another reason to get your flu shot? Check out “Can a Flu Shot Protect You From Severe COVID-19 Illness?“