AARP: How Bad Will Flu Season Be This Year?
AARP recently interviewed infectious disease specialist Michael Ben-Aderet, MD, associate medical director of Hospital Epidemiology at Cedars-Sinai, about the importance of getting the flu shot before a potentially rough flu season this fall.
In Australia, flu season arrived this year with an earlier-than-usual spike in illness. Influenza patterns in the Southern Hemisphere usually indicate what’s in store for the Northern Hemisphere, but there is no guarantee of similar activity or severity in the U.S.
“The cases were very front-loaded in the year,” Ben-Aderet told AARP, adding that “even a normal flu year is still something to worry about.”
During the 2022-2023 season in the U.S., there were an estimated 650,000 hospitalizations and 58,000 deaths due to the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Ben-Aderet urged everyone to get their flu shot, preferably sometime in September or October, to protect themselves and others from the virus.
Older adults, who are more vulnerable to complications from influenza and other respiratory viruses, will have two new vaccines to consider this fall: an updated COVID-19 booster and the new RSV vaccine. All three illnesses could be circulating at the same time this winter, Ben-Aderet said.
Fortunately, the same protective measures that help us avoid the flu also work against RSV and the virus that causes COVID-19: wearing a high-quality mask indoors and in crowded areas, washing hands often and thoroughly, avoiding people who are sick and staying up to date on the latest recommended vaccinations.
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