Experts Anticipate Severe Flu Season

Each year, flu season brings an increase in flu cases throughout the fall and winter. However, experts are predicting a particularly strong flu season this year. Flu seasons have been exceptionally mild in the past few years, likely due to COVID-19 precautions. However, precautions like masking and social distancing are less common now, and because of limited exposure to the influenza virus, many may have less immunity to the virus than they would in a typical year. 

“While the timing and severity of the upcoming flu season cannot be predicted…reduced population immunity, particularly among young children who may never have had flu exposure or been vaccinated, could bring about a robust return of flu,” said a CDC report of early flu activity. 

Although numbers are still relatively low, CDC reports show early increases in flu activity, indicating a possible early start to this year’s flu season. Additionally, the southern hemisphere, which has its flu season earlier in the year, experienced an abnormally severe season this year. Experts can often look to flu activity in the southern countries to predict the timing and intensity of flu seasons in the northern hemisphere. Although flu behavior can be unpredictable, recent patterns in the southern hemispheres, along with decreased immunity, have medical experts bracing for a more severe season. 

Flu Prevention 

With the possibility of a severe flu season ahead, medical professionals are encouraging preventative measures. Getting an annual flu shot is the most important step in flu prevention, according to the CDC.

“Flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination,” said the CDC. “These antibodies provide protection against flu illness.” 

Experts advise getting flu shots in September-October; however, vaccines administered throughout the season are still effective. In addition to getting vaccinated against the flu, the CDC recommends avoiding contact with sick people; washing hands; disinfecting potentially contaminated surfaces; covering sneezes and coughs; and avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth.