Australia’s season just ended, causing 300 deaths and around 1,700 hospitalizations. Because of this, doctors in the U.S. are worried about a more challenging flu season in the country this fall.
For Kencee Graves, an associate professor of internal medicine and chief medical officer for inpatient health at the University of Utah Health, there’s much to be learned from what happened in Australia recently, KSL.com reported.
The Down Under witnessed a large increase in this year’s flu season since the country did not record influenza deaths and only saw a handful of hospitalizations in the previous year. Given the fivefold increase in serious cases and deaths in Australia, it’s not hard to imagine what could be coming for the U.S. this flu season.
“That is what makes us in the U.S. a little concerned about how severe this flu season could be,” Graves said.
Doctors recommend getting the updated flu vaccines in September or October, before Halloween, since the flu season begins in October and lasts until March.
Aside from the need to get updated flu vaccines, the country should continue its efforts to contain COVID-19. Though the pandemic is no longer at the same level it was a year or two ago, the virus is still a cause for concern in many places.
Last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued its guidance, saying that the administration of the flu and other vaccines along with the COVID-19 jabs could be done “without regard or timing.” This meant simultaneous dispensing of the two vaccines in the human body was allowed.
Graves reiterated the same thing for this year’s flu season, saying it’s OK to get the flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine at the same time. However, those who had a severe vaccine response in the past are advised to get the flu and COVID-19 vaccines at different times.
Dr. Hannah Imlay, an assistant professor of internal medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Utah Health, said it’s also important to get the updated boosters since the previous ones were for the original strain of SARS-CoV-2.
To check for booster vaccine availability in your area, visit vaccines.gov/search/.