As flu season approaches, health experts are making predictions about what this year’s flu season will look like. While it’s difficult to predict with certainty, experts are basing their expectations on the flu seasons experienced in the southern hemisphere, such as Australia and South America.
“The expectation is that it’s going to be a bad flu season, if we base it on some of the areas of the world that always precede us,” says Dr. Jeffrey Jahre, an infectious disease specialist at St. Luke’s University Health Network.
However, other experts believe that this year’s flu season will be similar to previous years, like 2018, before the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Luther Rhodes, an infectious disease physician at Lehigh Valley Health Network, states that so far, most places are experiencing average flu activity.
Flu cases have already been reported in Pennsylvania, with Lehigh Valley Health Network detecting 11 cases and St. Luke’s University Health Network having suspected cases among patients who have traveled.
To stay protected, health experts are emphasizing the importance of getting the flu vaccine. The Pennsylvania Department of Health recommends getting the flu shot in October, as the vaccine’s effectiveness typically lasts for about three to four months. By getting vaccinated closer to the flu season, individuals can ensure they have the maximum protection when the virus is most prevalent.
It is advised to separate the flu and COVID-19 vaccines by several days, if possible. This allows individuals to identify any potential side effects and to avoid confusion about which vaccine may be responsible for them.
In addition to getting vaccinated, health officials also urge practicing good hygiene measures such as frequent handwashing, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when feeling sick. Social distancing is especially important for households with young children who are more susceptible to complications from the flu.
As flu season approaches, it’s essential to take precautions and be prepared. Simple remedies like gargling with salt water can help alleviate sore throat symptoms, but it’s important to keep track of the ingredients in over-the-counter medications and consult with healthcare providers for proper usage.
Remember, the flu vaccine remains the most effective tool for preventing the flu. Stay informed by checking the weekly flu report on the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s website and heed the advice of health officials for a healthier flu season.
– Dr. Jeffrey Jahre, Senior Vice President of Medical and Academic Affairs at St. Luke’s University Health Network
– Dr. Reynold Panettieri Jr., Vice Chancellor of Clinical and Translational Science, Professor of Medicine, and Director of the Rutgers Institute for Translational Medicine and Science
– Dr. Luther Rhodes, Infectious Disease Physician at Lehigh Valley Health Network
– Pennsylvania Department of Health
– New Jersey Department of Health