Fall is shortly approaching in america — which suggests the return of pumpkin spice lattes, sweater climate, and sadly, flu season.
Within the US, flu season usually begins round October and continues by the autumn and winter months. Whereas influenza viruses can unfold year-round, flu exercise tends to peak between December and February and may proceed as late as Might, in line with the US Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention.
Flu circumstances have been down considerably the previous few years throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, however specialists are warning that the US could possibly be in for a very unhealthy flu season if traits within the Southern hemisphere maintain true, NBC Information beforehand reported.
Some are involved a few resurgence of each the flu and COVID-19 this winter, which is being known as a “twindemic.”
What do we all know up to now about this yr’s flu season and when is the very best time to get a flu shot? We spoke to specialists to reply your whole flu season questions.
What can we anticipate for the 2022-23 flu season?
“It is at all times tough to foretell, nevertheless it’s clear that after we look to the Southern hemisphere, which is popping out of its winter, they’d a fairly extreme flu season … it additionally got here very early and it peaked in a short time,” Dr. Andy Pekosz, a virologist on the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Faculty of Public Well being, instructed TODAY.
In temperate components of the Southern hemisphere, flu exercise additionally peaks throughout the fall and winter (which happen earlier within the calendar yr), and flu season usually lasts between April and September, per the CDC. This may supply a glimpse of what the US can anticipate.
“If we use that as type of a barometer of what to anticipate, we think about that we’ll be seeing influenza come again a bit extra strongly than it has prior to now couple of years,” stated Pekosz, including that this may increasingly additionally point out that flu season will begin sooner than common within the US
One of many nations within the Southern hemisphere sparking concern is Australia, whose tough flu season this yr could not bode nicely for the US, in line with specialists.
“(Australia) had a extra extreme flu season than the prior 5 years … they’d larger charges of individuals contaminated and better hospitalizations,” Dr. Jennifer Lighter, pediatric infectious illness specialist at NYU Langone instructed TODAY in an interview. “Flu begins within the southern hemisphere… so we’re additionally anticipated to have a extra extreme season than prior to now a number of years,” Lighter added.
Consultants are additionally involved that diminished publicity to influenza viruses throughout the pandemic has brought about immunity to wane.
“As a result of flu hasn’t been circulating in the neighborhood that a lot the previous couple of years, (our) immune programs have not had a possibility to get re-stimulated and enhance antibody ranges” stated Lighter. “In america, immunity towards flu is decrease than in prior years, so this is among the the reason why it is anticipated to be a extra extreme season,” Lighter added.
One other issue is the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, which had beforehand helped to suppress the flu and different respiratory viruses.
“In the course of the pandemic, due to all of the social distancing, we really noticed little to no influenza … the priority now’s that now that we’re opening up, the proverbial ‘getting again to regular,’ and persons are mixing,” Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious illness doctor and professor of public well being, epidemiology, and medication at Yale Faculty of Public Well being, instructed TODAY in an interview.
“We form of dodged a bullet within the winter of 2020 and the winter of 2021,” stated Ko.
Luckily, there’s a technique to construct up immunity and defend your self forward of flu season: the annual influenza vaccine, which is advisable by the CDC for everybody ages six months and older.
Getting a flu shot is crucial step to guard towards flu.
“It is extra necessary this yr to get the flu shot than it has been within the prior couple of years,” stated Lighter.
In response to the CDC, getting a yearly flu shot is advisable because the “first and most necessary step in defending towards flu viruses,” and it additionally reduces the burden of flu sickness, hospitalizations, and deaths.
Previous to COVID-19, influenza was liable for as much as thousands and thousands of circumstances and wherever from 10,000 to 52,000 deaths within the US yearly throughout flu season, stated Pekosz. “It is not one thing that’s insignificant by way of how a lot hazard it poses to the inhabitants,” Pekosz added.
The entire flu photographs for the 2022-2023 season are quadrivalent, that means they defend towards 4 completely different flu viruses, per the CDC. These strains are chosen primarily based on what specialists predict will flow into throughout flu season, Ko stated, and up to date annually to offer the very best safety potential.
“They’ve some knowledge from Australia and over 94% of the strains that had been recognized in people contaminated with flu had been captured within the up to date flu vaccine. So it looks like an excellent match,” Lighter stated. Nonetheless, we can’t be capable to inform for positive till after the season ends and we get extra knowledge, Lighter added.
When is the very best time to get a flu shot?
“September or October would, at this level, be the very best time to get the flu shot,” stated Lighter. “We all know it takes a few weeks to get the safety, and that safety lasts for a lot of months so to get it this month or subsequent can be greatest,” Lighter added.
Because the specialists identified, there’s a chance that this yr’s flu season begins earlier within the US, which is another excuse to get your flu shot as quickly as potential.
“The underside line is that you do not need to wait till you are already going to be prone to getting influenza to get vaccinated,” stated Ko. “To get the most important profit — provided that we do not know whether or not the height can be in January or December — we need to get individuals to get vaccinated in September or October,” Ko added.
When is it too late to get a flu shot?
“Is it ever too late to get the flu shot? No,” stated Ko. “Should you’ve by no means had the flu shot, irrespective of the place you’re throughout the season, you need to get it … however the best safety, after all, (comes from) whenever you get it earlier than the season begins,” stated Ko.
The flu shot can nonetheless present safety in the event you get it later within the season when flu exercise peaks, in line with the CDC.
“So long as the flu is circulating in the neighborhood, anytime to get it could be good if a person didn’t obtain it in September or October,” stated Lighter.
So attempt to get it earlier than November in the event you can, nevertheless it’s higher late than by no means. “The timing of the flu shot is form of like climbing the inventory market, you actually do not need to suppose an excessive amount of about it — you simply type of need to get into it when you may,” stated Pekosz.
It is exhausting to foretell precisely when this flu season will finish. “We’ve not actually had typical respiratory virus seasons since COVID arrived,” Lighter stated, including that primarily based on the traits previous to COVID, flu season will seemingly finish round April or Might.
Which flu vaccines can be found?
There are a number of several types of flu photographs accessible — the one that’s applicable for you’ll rely in your age, well being standing, allergy symptoms, and different elements. “It is at all times good to speak to a main well being care supplier who is aware of you nicely, is aware of your historical past, is aware of what allergy symptoms you could have,” stated Ko.
In response to the CDC, these are the flu vaccines accessible for the 2022-23 season:
Commonplace dose flu shot: These vaccines are manufactured utilizing inactivated (killed) influenza virus grown in eggs and advisable for everybody aged 6 months to 64 years (together with pregnant ladies), per the CDC.
Nasal spray vaccine: This nasal mist makes use of dwell, attenuated (weakened) viruses and is authorized for individuals from two years to 49 years of age, Ko stated, however it isn’t advisable for pregnant or immunocompromised people.
Excessive-dose flu shot: This egg-based flu shot incorporates 4 occasions the antigen than standard-dose inactivated virus vaccines to supply a stronger immune response within the physique, and it is authorized for people 65 and older, per the CDC.
Adjuvanted flu shot: That is an egg-based flu shot authorized for individuals 65 and older which incorporates an adjuvant which makes a person have a stronger immune response, stated Lighter.
Cell-based flu shot: This flu shot incorporates viruses that had been grown in cell tradition, so it’s utterly egg-free, and it is authorized for individuals 6 months and older, per the CDC.
Recombinant flu shot: That is an egg-free flu shot made utilizing recombinant expertise, which incorporates 3 times the antigens than standard-dose flu photographs, per the CDC, and it’s authorized for adults aged 18 and older.
The most typical negative effects related to the seasonal flu shot are redness or soreness on the website of inoculation, gentle headache, fever, fatigue, and muscle aches, in line with the CDC.
One other necessary be aware: you may’t get the flu from the flu shot, Pekosz stated. If in case you have questions, at all times discuss to your physician.
How efficient is the flu shot?
The seasonal flu shot can hold you from getting sick, and there may be proof that it may well cut back the severity of sickness in the event you do occur to get contaminated after getting vaccinated and forestall flu-related issues in people with power well being situations, in line with the CDC .
“It retains individuals out of the hospital after which a secondary impact is that it reduces the variety of circumstances of influenza which might be current within the vaccinated populations,” stated Pekosz. This may additionally assist cut back the burden on healthcare programs, Ko added.
The efficacy of seasonal flu vaccines varies from yr to yr however latest research present that it may well cut back the danger of flu sickness by 40-60% when a lot of the virus strains within the vaccine are match the strains circulating that season, in line with the CDC .
We do not have knowledge on the efficacy of the flu vaccine for this upcoming 2022-23 flu season but, Lighter identified, however this may grow to be accessible in direction of the top or after the season ends.
Can I get my flu shot and COVID-19 booster on the similar time?
Sure, you may get flu shot and the brand new COVID-19 booster on the similar time throughout the identical appointment, TODAY beforehand reported.
“There’s no scientific proof that tells you that it’s a must to house them out,” stated Ko, including that it could even be extra handy to get each photographs on the similar time.
“I encourage individuals to get each on the similar time … particularly in the event you’re in one of many excessive threat teams for COVID-19 or influenza … whether or not it’s the aged, the immunocompromised, individuals with secondary medical situations, stated Pekosz.
There are flu antivirals accessible in the event you do occur to get contaminated, that are particularly necessary for high-risk people, stated Ko. However in the end, the purpose is to stop individuals from getting sick within the first place.
“After we’re excited about public well being, probably the most environment friendly factor is to stop illness relatively than wait till persons are sick and they should get handled,” stated Ko. “These vaccines can be found now and folks ought to get them beginning now so their immune programs will be greatest ready,” Ko added.