The past 2 flu seasons have been unusually mild. But as we gear up for the 2022-23 flu season, Kaiser Permanente doctors are warning our members and communities to remain vigilant — and get their flu shots as soon as possible.
“The flu is unpredictable. Every flu season behaves a little differently,” said Amy Duckro, DO, an infectious disease specialist for Kaiser Permanente in Colorado.
“But Australia had its worst flu season in 5 years. Because they experience winter before we do, what happens there can be a sign of what’s ahead.”
A simple solution: Get vaccinated
Dr. Duckro and health care professionals across Kaiser Permanente are urging people to prepare for flu season by getting vaccinated. Flu shots are safe, effective, and available to our members at no cost. Visit kp.org/flu to find locations near you.
We also recommend getting an updated COVID-19 booster if it’s been 2 months since your last COVID-19 vaccine dose or booster. It’s safe to get both vaccinations at the same time, and our members may be able to get them during the same visit. Visit kp.org/covidvaccine to learn more.
“Both vaccines help keep people out of the hospital, and they help prevent death,” said Darvin Scott Smith, MD, an infectious disease specialist for Kaiser Permanente in Northern California.
Who should get vaccinated — and when
Everyone 6 months and older should get a flu shot each year. The best time to get vaccinated is by the end of October, before peak flu season, but getting vaccinated at any point during flu season will still provide important protection.
Timely vaccination is especially important for children 6 months through 8 years old, as they may need 2 doses this season if it’s their first time getting a flu vaccination — or if they have only gotten a total of one dose of flu vaccine across all previous seasons.
High-dose flu shots are available for people age 65 and older, who tend to get sickest from flu and experience the most flu-related hospitalizations and deaths.
Never say never
Even if you’re young and healthy, and have never had the flu before, it’s important to get your flu shot.
“I tell people, ‘It’s great if you haven’t had the flu before, but if and when you get it, you are going to wish you had gotten vaccinated. Flu is a miserable disease, and it’s worth avoiding,’” Dr. Duckro said.
She added, “It’s possible for young, healthy people to have the flu with mild or no symptoms, and to unknowingly spread it to people who are at risk of more serious problems,” including children under 2, adults 65 and older, and people who are pregnant or have an ongoing health condition such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease.
“When you get the flu shot, you’re not just protecting yourself — you’re protecting your family, your friends, and everyone else in your community.”