Health experts say we could be in for a bad flu season

Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 5:44 PM CDT
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JEFFERSON CO., Ala. (WBRC) - Health experts are bracing for what they say could be an active flu season. They are basing this information on data they are already seeing in Australia.

Flu cases there are outpacing pre-pandemic levels.

Health experts are keeping an eye on Australia where the number of confirmed influenza cases has exceeded the five-year average.

Nearly 205,000 flu cases have been reported there and 181 people have died.

“That usually is a good predictor of what we have to expect coming up into the Northern hemisphere,” said Medical Director of Disease Control for the Jefferson County Department of Health, Dr. Wesley Willeford.

Flu cases have been historically low over the past two years.

Health experts said measures taken to help slow the spread of COVID-19 kept flu cases down. But Dr. Willeford said flu is unpredictable.

“Flu can change on a dime. We can have lots of cases, huge numbers, or it can be a very small number of cases, and a lot of that really depends on the strains of the flu that are circulating,” Dr. Willeford explained.

It’s unclear what strains of the flu we’ll see here, but health experts said the strains circulating in Australia seem to match those announced by the World Health Organization earlier this year.

Flu season is expected to rev up by late September, and Dr. Willeford said prevention is key.

“Be thinking about getting your flu shot. [We] recommend that for everyone ages 6 months and up. The major protection that you get from those flu shots really is going to be major protection against hospitalizations and hopefully good protection from getting sick out right,” Dr. Willeford explained.

Doctors recommend getting your flu shot between September and October because your immunity could wane if you get it too early.

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