With the United States on the cusp of flu season, which typically runs October through May, signs from other parts of the world lead experts to believe that this could be one of the most difficult flu seasons the U.S. has faced in years.
Forecasters in North America typically look to countries in the Southern Hemisphere, where flu season runs from April to October, for signs of what’s to come here in the states. This year, Australia has suffered the worst flu in 5 years, with cases peaking about three times higher than average. Recent modeling also predicts that the U.S. will see COVID-19 cases peak in early December just as the flu is also expected to circulate at high levels.
Experts also warn that many people haven’t been exposed to influenza since before the pandemic started in 2020. This results in lower flu immunity across the board, all while mask mandates have expired in most places—including schools, where flu can spread rapidly.
4 Ways to Reduce Risk During Flu Season
- Get a flu shot. Even if you are low risk for flu complications, getting the vaccine will provide you and those around you with some protection. Vanderbilt Corporate Health and Wellness can provide onsite immunization events for your company, making it more convenient for your employees to get flu shots and other vaccines.
- Line up for the COVID-19 Omicron booster. Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House Covid-19 response coordinator made it clear that it’s safe to get the flu vaccine and new COVID-19 booster shot at the same time. The new booster can provide enhanced protection against the BA.4 and BA.5 strains of the Omicron variant, which are predicted to circulate this winter. Read more about the booster in this blog post.
- Practice good hygiene. Experts recommend wearing a mask in crowded indoor spaces and washing your hands often to reduce your risk of getting sick or spreading viruses to others.
- Listen to your body. Flu and coronavirus symptoms are similar, including a runny nose, coughing, fever, fatigue, body aches and headaches. If you feel under the weather, stay home and rest, and consider testing to determine your diagnosis. Antiviral drugs are available to minimize your symptoms and even shorten the course of your illness.
Many of our employer partners conduct annual immunization events or health fairs, which give their employees easy, low-pressure introductions to health and wellness information and resources such as flu and coronavirus vaccines. If you are planning your own health fair or immunization event, Employer Solutions' Corporate Health and Wellness team is happy to participate by providing Vanderbilt expertise for on-site screenings, health education and vaccines for your employees.
Learn more about the team's capabilities on this site.