Doctor: Flu season may arrive early this year

Massachusetts

BOSTON, Mass. (WPRI) — Some doctors are predicting a moderate to severe flu season in the United States, and say it’s not too soon to start thinking about getting a flu shot.

Dr. Ali Raja, vice chairman of emergency medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, says he’s taking cues from other countries flu seasons.

“In Australia, the flu season peaked a month or two before it normally does, so I’ve been telling people September, mid- to late-September is the right time to start getting your flu shot,” Raja said.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the exact timing and duration of flu seasons can vary, the agency says influenza activity often begins to increase in October.

Hingham resident Kathy Shionis says she thinks the flu shot makes a big difference.

“The year I didn’t have it, I didn’t get the flu shot, I was in the hospital so, it’s worth it,” Shionis said.

While flu vaccine effectiveness can vary greatly, Dr. Raja says early data from Australia shows this year’s vaccine is performing well.

Brittany Orlando is a clinical pharmacist at Stop & Shop. She says the store was fully stocked with the vaccine earlier this month.

“By early September all of our stores were fully stocked with the quadrivalent vaccine which is for people under 65  as well as two different types of specialized senior vaccine,” Orlando said.

The CDC recommends everyone get a flu shot, though it’s extra important for pregnant women, young children, and seniors who are at higher risk of flu complications than most.

During the 2017-2018 influenza season, the Rhode Island Department of Health reports Rhode Island saw high rates of hospitalization and deaths associated with influenza, and data nationwide showed a severe flu season that started early and lasted for many weeks.

Click here to read the state’s 2017-2018 epidemiology and surveillance report.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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