Health experts are preparing for a rough flu season in the months ahead. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted an increase in the number of flu cases as the 2022-2023 flu season gets underway.
“We’ve noted that flu activity is starting to increase across much of the country,” especially in the Southeast and south-central U.S., the CDC’s director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, told NBC News.
She said that the rise in cases is partly due to lower vaccination rates.
“Not everybody got flu vaccinated last year, and many people did not get the flu. So that makes us ripe to have potentially a severe flu season,” Dr. Walensky said.
In the week ending on October 8, the CDC reported 1,766 cases of the flu, up from 1,274 the week before. While the numbers are still low, health officials are concerned that number will continue to rise over the next few months.
“Here we are in the middle of October – not the middle of November – we’re already seeing scattered influenza cases, even hospitalized influenza cases, around the country,” Dr. William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, told CNN. “So we know that this virus is now spreading out in the community already. It’s gathering speed already. It looks to me to be about a month early.”
The CDC advises everybody ages 6 months and older to get the annual flu vaccine by the end of October.
“An annual flu vaccine is the best way to protect against flu. Vaccination helps prevent infection and can also prevent serious outcomes in people who get vaccinated but still get sick with flu,” the agency said.