Australia is experiencing its worst flu season in five years, and that doesn’t bode well for the United States, federal health officials warned Tuesday.
America’s flu season often mirrors what unfolds in Australia, where winter spans April through October.
Americans don’t plan on getting a flu shot
Making matters worse, only 49% of Americans plan to get a flu shot during the 2022-2023 flu season, according to a new survey of more than 1,000 people by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID). In addition, one in five people at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications aren’t planning to get vaccinated this year, the survey showed.
“We don’t know exactly what to expect this flu season, but we do know the best way to prevent flu is to get vaccinated each year, ideally before flu activity begins in your community,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a media briefing on the upcoming flu season.
It’s never too late to get your flu shot, and it’s safe to get it at the same time as your COVID-19 booster, she stressed.
There have been worrisome drops in flu vaccine coverage during the past two flu seasons, Walensky said, with the main reasons being that some people don’t think it works or are concerned about side effects.
Each year, scientists track flu patterns and make an educated guess about which strains will circulate. Sometimes they get it right, and sometimes they don’t. But getting a shot still helps.
“Even if the flu vaccine is not a perfect match, it provides some protection against severe disease and complications of influenza,” said NFID director Dr. William Schaffner.
Just 58% of kids aged 6 months to 17 years got the flu shot during the 2021-2022 flu season, which is about