Scientists and the Government are warning the upcoming flu season could be particularly bad this year. As Smash Mouth famously said: the years stop coming and they don’t stop coming.
There are a couple of reasons why the flu could be worse this year. A big one is that a lot of our pandemic health measures are no longer around. I mean, Melbourne and Sydney were both in lockdown last winter aka peak flu season. Another big factor is that international borders are open again.
The deputy director for the World Health Organisation’s collaborating centre for reference and research for influenza Alan Barr broke down the issue for The Conversation.
“Tourists and returning residents can arrive without quarantining, provided they have the required COVID vaccinations and have had a COVID test beforehand,” he wrote.
“However, new arrivals don’t have to be tested for the flu virus, which they may inadvertently bring with them.
“Flu, a little like COVID, can be spread by infected others before symptoms arise or even if symptoms don’t appear, something we regularly see in children.
“So once flu arrives, it will inevitably spread”.
Barr told 9News he thought flu was “definitely back”.
The National Notifiable Disease Surveillance System reported 409 confirmed cases of flu in Australia in March this year, as per 9News. In contrast there were only 598 cases in the whole of 2021.
Luckily we have flu vaccines which basically everyone over six months old is recommended to get. You can also get your flu vaccine the same day as a COVID-19 vax. A booster and a flu jab all in one? Talk about efficient.
You also might have caught wind of a little baddie called ‘Flurona’. She kind of sounds like a camp Seattle queen on RuPaul’s Drag Race. But alas, she is not.
Flurona is a double infection of COVID and the flu. Not fun!
The good news is that the dual infection is super rare. A study published last year found that only 0.8 per cent of patients surveyed with COVID-19 had the flu too.
‘Flurona’ is also kind of a misleading term. The influenza virus can’t merge with COVID to make a new virus.
As explained by the Doherty Institute, “they are distinct viruses that cannot combine”. Thank fuck for that.
So the real takeaway here is to get jabbed for the flu ASAP if you can. As a general rule, the flu vaccine is free for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, pregnant people, people over 65 and kiddos aged between six months and less than five years old.
It’s also free for people who have certain medical conditions.
Bloody frustrating that the flu vaccine isn’t free for everyone. Make healthcare free for all you cowards.
But if you can spare the $25, it’s a great idea to get vaxxed.
Some workplaces also offer the flu vaccine for employees so get on to your boss about it!