Australia is facing its worst flu season in years. Why that might affect us in the US

This year Australia experienced its worst flu season in five years. Although Australia is half a world away, the flu season is sometimes used as a predictor for ours.

Does this mean we can expect a rough flu season? How can we stay protected? To prepare, we sat down with Karen Brust, MD, a hospital epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist.

Karen Brust, MD, hospital epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist

Are we expecting a rough flu season this year?

“Despite the difficulty of predicting the season of a respiratory pathogen, it is always best to plan for the worst and hope for the best. Overall, the Australian flu season has lent itself well to interpreting what might happen in the US, but nothing is guaranteed.

I expect an increase in the number of flu cases compared to years before as precautions such as wearing masks and social distancing are less routine in the community than during the height of the pandemic.”

How should individuals protect themselves against the flu?

“Receiving your annual flu vaccination is always the right starting point. Even if the vaccine does not fully protect against infection, it will probably protect you against a serious infection.

Aside from vaccination, other safety precautions include wearing a face mask in crowded areas and practicing good hand hygiene.

If someone is experiencing symptoms, how do they know if it’s the flu or COVID-19?

Employees who have symptoms of the flu or COVID-19 should stay home and MyChart Self-Check to schedule a test.

“There is a lot of overlap between symptoms. If you have symptoms, it is best to schedule a test such as our respiratory virus panel. This panel is testing a number of pathogens to rule out SARS-COV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), influenza and even Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).”

Looking for more information about the flu vaccine? View our flu vaccination hub for employees and volunteers.

How do you get your flu vaccination?

1. Log in to your ReadySet account use your HawkID and password and fill out our short flu survey.

  • Why? It’s a way to handle important information while protecting your privacy. Once you have created an account and completed the flu survey, it means you are ready to get vaccinated.
  • Scan the QR code on the right with your phone’s camera to get started, or go to link/MyReadySet and enter your HawkID and password.
  • Logged in but still need help? Go through the survey step by step.

2. Bring your UI Hospitals & Clinics badge to the vaccination site.

3. Get your flu vaccination.

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