The start, duration and severity of flu season can be a bit unpredictable every year, but there are things you can do now and throughout flu season to help prepare and protect yourself. From October 2021 to June 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that up to 13 million people contracted the flu, up to 6.1 million visited a health care provider for treatment, up to 170,000 were hospitalized and up to 14,000 died because of this seasonal flu. While those numbers are lower than years past, Dr. Katie Passaretti, vice president and enterprise chief epidemiologist at Atrium Health, is apprehensive about the upcoming flu season.
“Our COVID-19 numbers are on the down swing right now, but another surge could happen this fall,” Passaretti says. “If you add the flu on top of a possible surge, it’s going to mean even more hospitalizations. If we don’t minimize that risk, we could overwhelm an already strained health care system.”
This year (much like the last), COVID-19 restrictions have been loosened or lifted, kids are back in school and many businesses and communities have returned to pre-pandemic activities.
“Children seem to have weathered COVID-19 easier, with fewer long-lasting issues and lower death rates than we’ve seen in adults but not every child has a mild case,” says Dr. Lyn Nuse, senior medical director of pediatric primary care at Atrium Health Levine Children’s. “The same goes for flu. Some kids can’t kick it quite like others – that’s who we need to get vaccinated for.”