Flu Season Forecast
Ray Smith
/ Categories: 2022

Flu Season Forecast

Experts are looking at all of the data available and predict that this flu season will be more difficult than those in the recent past. If you remember back to the 2020 – 2021, the flu was practically non-existent. The prevention steps we took against COVID knocked it out entirely. Even the 2021 – 2022 season was milder than we are used to. Given the circumstances, scientists are expecting that the 2022 – 2023 flu season will be far more difficult.

Factor #1: The earth has a northern and southern hemisphere, and the hemispheres have opposite flu seasons. So, the southern hemisphere is just coming out of their flu season, as we are going into ours. We look to Australia, because it has more cultural similarities to Europe and the United States compared to many other countries in the southern hemisphere. They had their worst flu season in 5 years. Australia’s flu season was also earlier than usual. While the northern hemisphere doesn’t always have the same experience as our southern neighbors, it is among the most reliable predictive information we have.

Factor #2: Many COVID restrictions, including masking in public and limited social gatherings, kept people from being exposed to the flu for a few years. Immunity wanes over time. A few light flu seasons in a row actually increases the risk for a more severe season later, especially for those who don’t get vaccinated against the flu.

Factor #3: The same restrictions that kept us safe from COVID and the flu over the past few years are no longer in place. People are gathering unmasked in large numbers once again. So, the exposure to the flu will most certainly be higher, which will likely drive more cases and more severe cases.

The most important action you can take is to get vaccinated, preferably in October. Experts predict that this year’s flu vaccine is a good match for the virus. 174.7 million people in the United States got the flu shot last year. The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone 6 months and older. A high-dose vaccine is recommended for everyone 65 and older.

Flu vaccine clinics are scheduled 8 a.m. – noon Saturdays in October at the COVID Resource Center. You can get an updated COVID booster and a flu vaccine in the same visit, as long as you are eligible for both. You can also get your flu shot at your provider’s office or at a local pharmacy.

 

Marie George, MD, FIDSA, is an infectious disease specialist at SVMC Infectious Disease, part of Southwestern Vermont Medical Center and Southwestern Vermont Health Care in Bennington.

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