Flu season could be rough this year
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Flu season in the U.S. could be especially rough this year - if trends in the Southern Hemisphere - hold true.
This isn’t the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began that experts have warned of a “twin-demic” - but it hasn’t happened in the last two years.
There is some new information this year about the flu and how it’s impacting children that’s causing concern.
Australia is coming off its worst flu season in five years. The flu there hit children the hardest. According to the country’s health agency, kids 5-9 had the highest rate of virus, followed by kids 4 and younger, and then 10-19 year olds.
The U.S. watches Australia to make flu predictions. Their flu season started early and - in turn - peaked earlier than normal.
If that plays out in the U.S., the flu could spread just in time for cooler weather when people start to spend more time indoors. That’s also something that can lead to a spike in COVID cases.
Local health experts say they are watching the trend closely.
“We really are encouraging people whether it’s for themselves or for their children to go ahead and get vaccinated for influenza for this fall,” Elaine Perry, director of Richmond and Henrico Health Districts.
Some national health experts have voiced concern that flu immunity may have waned since cases were so low during the COVID pandemic.
Plus, our habits have changed recently, which could impact flu and covid numbers.
“It’s impossible to tell for certain but definitely as people have relaxed, we’re not seeing a lot of social distancing, we’re not seeing a lot of masking, we are seeing people gather together in closer numbers,” said Perry. “There is a potential for this to return to a more severe season than we have seen in the past.”
While there is no dual vaccine, you can safely get both a flu shot and COVID booster on the same day, if you’re eligible, health officials say.
“We say you’ve got two arms,” said Perry. “One for your influenza and one for your COVID-19 shot, so make sure you’re protected from both of those as best you can.”
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