Australia is facing its worst flu season in years. Why that may impact us in the US

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

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

Karen Brust, MD, hospital epidemiologist and infectious disease specialist

Do we anticipate a rough flu season this year?

“Despite the difficulty in trying to predict any respiratory pathogen’s season, it’s always best to plan for the worst and hope for the best. In general, Australia’s flu season has lent itself well to interpreting what might happen stateside, but nothing is guaranteed.

I do anticipate an increase in the number of flu cases compared to years prior since precautions like mask wearing and social distancing are less routine in the community than they were during the height of the pandemic.”

How should individuals protect themselves against the flu?

“Receiving your annual flu vaccine is always the right starting point. Even if the vaccine doesn’t fully protect against infection, it is likely to protect you against severe 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 whether it’s the flu or COVID-19?

Employees experiencing symptoms of the flu or COVID-19 should stay home and use the MyChart self-checker to schedule a test.

“There is a lot of overlap between symptoms. The best thing to do if you have symptoms is to schedule a test like our respiratory virus panel. This panel tests 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? Check out our flu vaccination hub for employees and volunteers.

How to get your flu vaccination

1.    Sign into your ReadySet account using your HawkID and password and complete our short flu survey.

  • Why? It’s a way to process important information while protecting your privacy. Once you’ve set up an account and finished the flu survey, it means you’re ready to get vaccinated.
  • Scan the QR code to the right using your phone’s camera to get started, or visit link/MyReadySet and enter your HawkID and password.
  • Logged in but still need help? Walk through the survey step by step.

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

3.   Get your flu vaccination.