NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Cooler temperatures are just around the corner, but as we start spending more time indoors, the chances for the flu to circulate grow. As flu season approaches, there are a few things medical professionals want you to know.
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Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt, says that the southern hemisphere’s flu season may indicate that this year’s flu season will be more active than the last two, “Parts of the southern hemisphere, Australia, in particular, actually have a very big flu season this year that came early, and it affected children and young adults in particular. So we’re bracing, it doesn’t always predict what will happen here during our winter, but we’d best be ready.”
The last two flu seasons have been mild due to measures used to fight the spread of COVID-19. “We’ve taken off our masks, we’re going out to restaurants, we’re going to religious services, we’re back in business at work,” said Dr. Schaffner. “And so I think that we’ll once again, promote the dissemination of the influenza virus. So we best get protected as well as we can using vaccine.”
While flu usually peaks in February in the US, you will want to get vaccinated for it before then. Dr. Schaffner says the ideal time to get your flu vaccination is just a few weeks away. “The ideal timing is late September, during October, and early November. If you get your flu vaccine, then the protection is likely to last until the beginning of next year, February, March, which is when flu usually peaks in the United States.”
Dr. Schaffner also wants to remind Middle Tennesseans that COVID is still a threat, but a new booster is rolling out. And yes, you can get both the COVID booster and the flu vaccine at the same time, “Let’s be frank, there’s a certain amount of vaccine fatigue out there. And we’ve just announced that there is a new updated COVID vaccine available this Fall also, should start to be available [Tuesday], as a matter of fact, but we are going to have to recommend to everyone that they roll up both sleeves this Fall. One sleeve for the COVID vaccine, the other sleeve for the influenza vaccine, both serious viruses, both can do a lot of damage to individuals and be stressful to our communities. “