“If these trends continue, it absolutely will be. I suppose there’s a chance that we’re just seeing an early flu season that will get better, but not much evidence of that. We’re still certainly on the upswing of flu,” Wilson said.
Social distancing and masking over the last two years meant no flu or illnesses, but it also meant no normal immunities were built up. And now possibly another new concern related to the pandemic.
“There’s some speculation that COVID infection may reduce immunity more broadly and make people more susceptible to flu,” Wilson said. “We’re looking at some data to see where that goes. But however way you slice it, we’re going to see a pretty bad flu season this year.”
According to the CDC, flu shots reduce the risk of illness by 40% to 60%. A 2022 survey by the National Foundation of Infectious Diseases reveals that almost 60% of people plan to wear masks in winter instead of getting a flu shot.
Wilson said some people are experiencing vaccine fatigue.
“Many people have gotten multiple shots in the past year and are just kind of tired of it,” Wilson said. “It’s not a great decision. I do encourage people, especially given the bad flu season we’re in for, to get that flu shot as soon as you can.”
For people 65 and up, there is a stronger version of the flu shot.
“You can be quite sick for quite some time,” Wilson said. “And certainly older people are particularly at risk of being hospitalized. And we’ve already seen flu deaths this year.”