Based on what we’ve seen in the Southern Hemisphere, experts say the U.S. could be headed for a bad influenza season this fall and winter, coupled with a possible spike in COVID-19 cases by December.
ANTHONY FAUCI: The Southern hemisphere has had a pretty bad flu season. And it came on early.
KATELYN JETELINA: We typically every year rely on what’s happening down in the Southern hemisphere like Australia to predict what we’re going to see in the United States. And what we’re seeing in Australia was not pretty. They had a pretty intense flu season. We saw this really large curve of flu hospitalizations that peaked during their winter season, which is our summer, and went back down. And this peak was as high as previous bad flu seasons. And so it looks like flu is back.
One of the biggest questions going into this flu season is how big is it going to get with a circulating COVID 19 with very little restrictions if at all? And how will our health care systems bode is one major concern we have? Every year since the pandemic, we’ve feared this twin dynamic, which means a bad flu season while COVID-19 is also pretty bad. And that actually hasn’t happened yet. The last really bad flu season we had was in 2017, 2018.
So it’s been a while and we think that’s because of the combination of mitigation measures, as well as this unknown interaction or dynamics between two viruses. Given what we saw in Australia that they had a very bad flu season, we think it’s coming for the United States this year.
We really need to prepare up in the northern hemisphere and use this as a signal and a warning to get vaccinated and to protect ourselves.
ASHISH JHA: The good news is you can get both your flu shot and COVID shot at the same time. It’s actually a good idea. I really believe this is why God gave us two arms. One for the flu shot and the other one for the COVID shot.
KATELYN JETELINA: You can certainly get your flu shot and COVID-19 shot together. There are no safety concerns with that. In fact, we had a really large study last year. I think it was 440,000 people got their COVID-19 shot with flu. Both of them worked really great when you got them at the same time. And we know that masks work, not just for COVID-19.
But they work for the flu as well. And so if you want to protect yourself, to wear a mask in crowded indoor areas will help reduce your likelihood of getting sick at all really. Unfortunately, we cannot rely on other people. And so the onus is placed on you.