August 21, 2014

Flu season begins early

The flu season is underway in Wisconsin. UW Health infectious disease specialist Dr. Nasia Safdar said the early start to the season indicates that it will be worse than last year. “The early start probably portends that this will be at least as severe a flu season as we were used to before the pandemic,” she said. “In between there for a year we had a very mild flu season, and it may be that people got used to that. But that’s not the rule, that’s the exception.”

How severe the season will be overall is unpredictable. Safdar said people should consider getting vaccinated as soon as possible, ideally before the holidays and family get-togethers, to increase the chances of flu immunity. “I think it’s critical for everybody that is eligible to get the flu vaccine. There is no such thing as getting it too early, or too late.”

It takes two to three weeks for antibodies to build up in response to the flu vaccine. Safdar said this year’s vaccine appears to be a pretty good match to the viruses that are circulating.