Because of restrictions put in place to protect people from coronavirus, last year’s flu season never arrived. However, there is growing concern that this year’s flu season could be severe.
A new prediction said the pieces are in place for a severe flu season, but experts caution that there are several other factors to consider.
The flu is notoriously hard to predict, even without an ongoing pandemic. The model from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health suggests that the flu could result in as many as 600,000 hospitalizations.
For comparison, about 200,000 people are generally hospitalized with the flu each year. Experts said a combination of factors could make this winter particularly tough.
Regardless of what the future holds, health officials are urging people to get their flu shots in an attempt to prevent further strain on hospitals already overwhelmed by COVID-19 and other viruses.
Dr. Arnold Monto is an influenza expert at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.
“I don’t like to talk about a potential flu season, but we really need to keep people thinking about flu as we get into the vaccination season,” Monto said.
Lack of data made picking the flu strains for this year’s vaccines to protect against more challenging. That decision had to be made in March.
This year’s flu shots do include two updates, but it remains to be seen how well they will match up with the flu viruses that end up circulating this winter.
The best protection against the flu is to get a flu shot. It’s recommended that you get it by the end of October.
Many people have asked if you can get your flu shot at the same time as a COVID booster shot. The CDC said you can get both at the same time.