(WXYZ) — It may be warm and sunny outside, but don’t be fooled. We’re edging closer to cooler weather and the start of cold and flu season.
Experts fear influenza could make a strong comeback this year. Forecasters look at countries in the Southern Hemisphere, where flu season starts earlier and found there’s cause for concern for Americans.
In the country known as the “Land Down Under,” Australia had its worse flu season in the last five years. I’m emphasizing five years – we’re not just comparing to the last two years when COVID-19 precautions kept flu case numbers low.
So how bad was it? Well, cases in Australia were about three times higher than their annual average. They also peaked roughly two months sooner.
Now, their flu typically season runs from May to October — much sooner than ours — so why does this matter to Americans? Because what happens first in the Southern Hemisphere can also happen in the U.S. And we all need to be prepared for the possibility of the flu season hitting our communities hard and fast on top of a potentially bad COVID-19 season.
There’s been so much emphasis on COVID-19 that people have forgotten that the flu can also be a serious infection. Tens of thousands of Americans have been hospitalized and thousands have died from the flu in the past.
It’s wouldn’t surprise me if immunity in the general population is much lower now. That’s because for the last two years, we’ve been wearing masks, social distancing and following COVID-19 precautions. So, flu had less of an opportunity to spread. But now, many people have returned to their pre-pandemic routines.
Few are wearing masks and there’s more socializing indoors. Less exposure to influenza means less immunity. And that opens the door for the flu to return with a vengeance.
On top of that, having two co-circulating respiratory viruses — the flu and COVID — could mean trouble for our hospitals. We don’t want our health care systems overwhelmed or our nurses and doctors burnt out.
So that’s why it’s important for people to get the flu shot and to get the new updated COVID boosters. I’d highly recommend you get both of these as soon as possible, or at least before the end of October when flu season really picks up.
Dr. Partha Nandi, MD, explores the steps to a healthy relationship on the next all-new “Dr. Nandi Show.” Best-selling author and inspirational speaker Mastin Kipp discusses the connection between healthy relationships and good health. Plus, The Love Doctor Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., talks marriage and love, and therapist Lyn Lewis, Ph.D., breaks down the best practices for many types of relationships. Also, a longtime couple share their secrets to a healthy relationship. Tune in this Sunday, Sept. 11 at 5 p.m.