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It’s that time of year, when news agencies tell us the number of daily flu cases, and we hear the sneezing and coughing from people around us. Flu season is in full swing, and it’s predicted to be a severe one, according to health experts.

How do officials figure this stuff out? It’s actually quite interesting.

It’s Gonna Be a Bad Flu Season

Infectious disease and public health experts in the Northern hemisphere generally look at what happened in the Southern hemisphere as a predictor of where things will go during our winter. The Southern Hemisphere goes first, and based on how Australia’s flu season was, it’s gonna be rough. Australia experienced their worst flu season in five years.

Health officials say what may be partly to blame is that for a few years now, we haven’t really been exposed to the flu virus because of masking and Covid-19 restrictions, so our immunity decreases.

What is the Flu Virus?

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs. According to the CDC, it can be a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death.

During typical flu seasons, millions of people will become sick, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands to tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes.

If you’ve ever had the flu, you know you feel crummy for about 7-10 days. But there are times when it can develop into further health problems. Complications from the flu  can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections and worsening of chronic medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, asthma, or diabetes. Health officials warn–serious complications from the flu are more likely in babies and young children, pregnant women, older adults, and people with certain long-term health conditions.

Get Your Annual Flu Vaccine

But you can prevent the flu or the severity if you get your flu shot. Many people will get their flu vaccine beginning in September. You want protection to last through the peak of flu season which is February. This not only protects you but your loved ones and the community.

During National influenza Vaccination Week (December 6-12, 2022), the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) is urging everyone age 6 months and older—if you haven’t already gotten your flu vaccine, it’s not too late, especially for those who are considered high risk, health-wise. The NFID is concerned, because a recent survey indicated that  only 49% of US adults plan to get a flu vaccine during the 2022-2023 flu season. 

That’s why it’s important to know that the best way to prevent flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year. The seasonal flu shot can lower the risk of getting the flu by about half. While some people who get a flu shot may still get sick with influenza, flu vaccination has been shown in several studies to reduce severity of illness. Contrary to what some may believe, the flu vaccine cannot cause the flu.

Protection with the Flu Vaccine

The Flu shot causes antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination. These antibodies provide protection against flu illness.

Seasonal flu vaccines are designed to protect against the influenza viruses that researchers believe will be most common during the upcoming season. All flu vaccines in the United States are “quadrivalent” vaccines, which means they protect against four different flu viruses: an influenza A(H1N1) virus, an influenza A(H3N2) virus, and two influenza B viruses.

Officials say there are some new vaccines this season, designed for people 65 years and older that are recommended over standard dose.

The Flu Vaccine is Not Made for Everyone

There are some people who should not get the flu shot.

  • Children younger than 6 months of age
  • People with severe, life-threatening allergies to any ingredient in a flu vaccine (other than egg proteins).
  • People who have had a severe allergic reaction to a dose of influenza vaccine, previously
  • If you ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome (a severe paralyzing illness, also called GBS). Talk to your doctor about your GBS history.
  • If you are not feeling well, talk to your doctor about your symptoms.

Any Lab Test Now® Can Test for Flu

If you suspect you may be sick with the flu, or if you are travelling this holiday season and want to protect your friends and family members, Any Lab Test Now® is a resource for you. With so many different causes for similar illnesses, it can be difficult to know what the cause of any respiratory illness symptoms might be.

To determine if you have the flu or not, we provide our rapid flu influenza test. Results are available to you in 10 to 15 minutes and can help identify if symptoms are due to an infection with the influenza virus or not.  No matter the results, if you are sick with a respiratory virus, it’s always best to follow up with your healthcare provider to get appropriate treatment. If you need a provider, we’ve teamed up with DialCare to provide virtual licensed physicians at your fingertips.

Schedule an Appointment Today

Any Lab Test Now® is a resource you can use for your family’s health and wellness.  The lab tests we provide are confidential, affordable, and convenient. If you are feeling under the weather, get your flu test and the answers you need. Call now to schedule an appointment at a location near you.