Interestingly, those of us who live in the United States get a heads up prior to each flu season. This occurs because we are able to look at flu trends in Australia.
With Australia being in the southern hemisphere, their seasons are the opposite of those countries in the Northern Hemisphere which includes the U.S. This means their winter (and flu season) takes place six months prior to our flu season.
Flu Season to be a Rough One
By reviewing the types of flu strains and the severity of Australia’s flu season, we can make some predictions as to what will happen during our flu season in the U.S. that runs from October to February.
From the initial data it looks like the 2019 flu season will be more severe than last year. Australia’s flu season began earlier than normal and is projected to be one of the more severe seasons seen in the last 20 years. This season hospital admissions and deaths attributed to influenza have increased significantly. At the end of June 2019 there were 231 influenza-related deaths reported compared to just 55 in 2018, but still considerably less than the 598 in 2017.
One of the other advantages of the flu season in Australia preceding ours is that we can learn what flu strains are being seen.
Each year pharmaceutical companies work with the Center for Disease Control to produce vaccines for those flu viruses they anticipate being the most prevalent. It appears from Australia’s experience that this year’s flu vaccine works well against those flu strains that are most common.
Now’s the Time to Prepare
Flu season has already begun. Now is the time to get your annual flu shot. Flu shots continue to be the best protection from contracting this virus that can be very serious for young children and the elderly.
There are a number of local pharmacies that are offering flu shots. You can also stop by Blackbird Clinical Services anytime between 9 am and 4 pm to receive a shot. Cost is $27.00.