A severe flu season south of the equator raises concerns

The 2022-2023 flu season predictions are for a tough winter. Find out what you can do to protect yourself and those around you.

With its winter during our summer months, Australia often can be a good indicator of what kind of a flu season is on its way north of the equator.

Based on the experience in Australia, the 2022-2023 flu season predictions are for a tough winter.

From mid-April through the end of June in Australia, weekly confirmed cases of flu consistently exceeded five-year averages, according to the weekly Australian Influenza Surveillance Report.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of mid-October early indications of flu activity in the southeastern and south-central portions of the U.S. could signal an early start to this year’s spread of the virus.

Flu illnesses tend to peak between December and February, although many people still get sick as late as May.

Norton Now

Getting vaccinated is the best way to avoid getting sick from the flu. If you do get sick, you have options for care from home, at a nearby clinic or with your primary care provider.

Get better

“Even if the flu is spreading around you, it’s not too late to get vaccinated,” said Monalisa M. Tailor, M.D., an internal medicine physician and primary care provider with Norton Community Medical Associates. “Getting vaccinated by the end of October will give you about six months of protection through the worst of flu season. Your protection starts about two weeks after you get the shot.”

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What’s the best time to get a flu shot?

Seasonal influenza hasn’t been much of an issue the past two seasons as steps to avoid COVID-19 also prevented the spread of flu. But for the 2022-2023 flu season, predictions of resurgent flu viruses are combining with expectations of another COVID-19 surge this winter. Wearing masks, traveling less and other precautions to avoid COVID-19 slowed the spread of respiratory viruses during the past two seasons.

“Because we took steps to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19, fewer people, especially young children, have flu exposure through getting sick or vaccination,” Dr. Tailor said. “Getting vaccinated against flu right away and COVID-19 when you are scheduled for a shot or booster can help prevent these sometimes deadly diseases.”

If you are due for the COVID-19 vaccine or a booster, you can get it at the same time you get your flu shot.

As for the illnesses, it’s also possible to get flu and COVID-19 at the same time. A recent study found that in 2020 and 2021, those who were infected with both viruses faced significantly increased odds of death.

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