The Flu Might Hit Harder This Upcoming Fall and Winter

Flu
Courtesy of Rusty Clark ~ 100K Photos (Flickr CC0)

With flu season just around the corner, what can Americans expect? It almost feels as if the flu has been nonexistent for the past two years because of COVID. With COVID restrictions being eased, health experts express their concerns for this upcoming fall and winter. Health experts are warning the whole U.S. to brace for a possible very severe flu season.

Flu
Courtesy of j_lai (Flickr CC0)

All throughout the U.S., it seems as if wearing a mask was a thing of the past. Masks are no longer worn and people are now more likely to come in contact with influenza in comparison to past years. Also, since fewer people have been infected with the flu virus in the past years, it’s unlikely that many people will be immune. In past years, exposure to the virus creates community immunity because about 10 to 30 percent of people are exposed to the flu in a normal season. But in 2020 and 2021 fewer people have been infected, which will result in a decline in natural immunity.

To put it in perspective, pre-pandemic pediatric flu deaths would on average exceed 100. But since 2020, pediatric influenza deaths have fallen below 40, with only one death in 2020. So, with a lowered community immunity people are now at a higher risk of contracting the flu virus this year.

The Southern Hemisphere is currently in the winter so they have been experiencing their flu season. Looking at their influenza season can help preview what the Northern Hemisphere can expect. Australia has been experiencing its worst flu season in the past 5 years.

Flu infection rates have peaked way earlier than it usually does in Australia. In 2020 and 2021 Australia reported only 37 laboratory-confirmed flu-associated deaths and zero of them being in 2021. During that same year, influenza hospitalizations and deaths reached an all-time low in Australia — 600 cases of influenza. So far the nation has reported more than 217,000 cases — in 2019, Australia reported 300,000 cases.

The White House is advocating for people to get both their boosters shot for COVID and flu shots at the same time. Their goal is to hopefully avoid a surge from both COVID and the flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that September and October are good times for people to get vaccinated for the upcoming flu season. The CDC states that currently there are three influenza vaccines; Fluzone High-Dose Quadrivalent vaccine, Flublok Quadrivalent recombinant flu vaccine, and Fluad Quadrivalent adjuvanted flu vaccine. Those vaccines are recommended for people under the age of 65.

GSK announced that they expect to distribute more than 50 million doses of flu virus vaccines to the U.S market.

Written by Gabriel Salgado
Edited by Sheena  Robertson

Sources:

The Hill: Nation warned to brace for a difficult flu season

CDC: Influenza (Flu)

GSK: GSK prepares US for 2022-23 flu season with over 50 million influenza vaccine doses

Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Rusty Clark ~ 100K Photos Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

Inset Image Courtesy of j_lai Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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