Flu season is just around the corner. Influenza or "the flu" is a contagious upper-respiratory illness that can cause severe illness, and at times, lead to death. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that during the 2018-2019 flu season, the flu was associated with 490,600 hospitalizations and 34,200 deaths. Symptoms include fever, chills, cough, congestion, headaches, fatigue, and muscle aches.
Don’t expect the number of cases in the U.S. to be lower this year because countries in the Southern Hemisphere, like Australia and New Zealand, experienced a very mild flu season . Their flu season happened at the same time their citizens were abiding by very strict stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19. Since the U.S. is not enforcing similar regulations, experts in the U.S. do not expect a similar decrease in the number of flu cases.
If anything, because Americans are also at risk of contracting COVID-19, this flu season presents a greater-than-normal risk to your health. That means getting a flu shot is more important than ever. Stacy Schultz-Cherry, a researcher at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital explains it this way , “We really don’t know what a co-infection would look like.” Schultz-Cherry adds, “I wouldn’t want to have the lungs that would find that out.” You don’t want those lungs either.