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Why we may see the worst flu season in nearly five years this year

Cases of the flu have already been detected in New Mexico and Washington D.C.
Credit: Subbotina Anna - stock.adobe.com

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Flu season is off to an early start this year, with cases already reported in New Mexico and Washington D.C., according to the CDC.

Health officials say our peak flu season could happen in October, which is two months earlier than normal.

Dr. Ronald Grifka, the Chief Medical Officer for University of Michigan Health West says it's possible we could see one of the worst flu seasons in nearly five years largely because many have not been exposed to the flu due to social distancing and masking. 

"With all the measures that people did over the last two years, that decreased the transmission of influenza, which means a lot of us probably have our antibodies or immunities a little bit less than usual. So, we're probably more prone and susceptible to a large influenza outbreak this year."

Dr. Grifka says health officials are monitoring what it happening right now in the southern hemisphere because the flu circulates there first before coming to the northern hemisphere and the U.S. 

"It was quite a surge. It was the worst influenza season they had in the last four or five years. So, certainly worth paying attention to."

The flu that is beginning to circulate is Influenza-A and is included in this year's flu shot. 

The CDC created a sheet of the most frequently-asked questions about this year's flu season. They say it is safe for you to get your flu vaccine and COVID booster at the same time.

The CDC is asking the community to remember it takes two to three weeks to develop immunity after you get your flu vaccine, so the earlier you get it, the sooner you'll be protected.

FLU SYMPTOMS

According the CDC Influenza (flu) can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Flu symptoms usually come on suddenly. People who have flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle or body aches
  • headaches
  • fatigue (tiredness)
  • some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

13 On Your Side Health Reporter Valerie Lego 

Val has been reporting on health and medical stories in West Michigan for 16 years. She is an 18-time Emmy Award Winner. Her health reporting credentials include fellowships from the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Association of Health Care Journalists

Contact me: vallego@13OnYourSide.com

Follow me  Twitter @valerielego Facebook @valerielego Instagram @val_lego

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