Here’s Why Flu Season Is Abnormally Long This Year

Flu season typically occurs in the U.S. between late fall and early spring, peaking in December and February.

However, hospitals across the country have been experiencing spikes in influenza as summer approaches.

According to the CDC’s June 10 Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report, “seasonal influenza viruses continue to circulate in parts of the United States.”

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Dr. Andrew Pavia, an epidemiologist, said, “We have experienced a remarkably prolonged influenza season. It began around Thanksgiving 2021, and cases continue through now.”

Why Is The Flu Season In 2021-2022 So Long?

Flu season has been unexpectedly long due to a “perfect storm” of conditions, Tosh said.

He explained, “In any given flu season, we expect about 10% of the population to become infected and develop some degree of natural immunity for the next flu season.”

The experience of COVID waves has caused vacillating approaches to masking and social distancing.

The current influenza vaccine is not a perfect match with the strain that has dominated this season, so we might see more cases and more severe illnesses.

Flu Seasons Are Unpredictable

Experts say that despite the unique challenges of the flu season, every flu season is different from the last, so there’s no reason to worry.

Tosh said, “We have a saying among doctors that if you’ve seen one influenza season, you’ve seen one. Flu seasons are predictably unpredictable.”

It’s good to note that hospitals haven’t been overrun with flu patients as some feared, even though high case rates have lasted longer than usual.

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Avoiding The Flu

Dr. David Brett-Major, an epidemiologist, advises that some of the prevention measures used in the pandemic also work against influenza — including vaccination, hand hygiene, wearing masks (especially in high-risk settings), and avoiding sick people.

Experts say staying home when you’re feeling ill is also essential.

Tosh explained, “People no longer believe it’s okay to ‘power through’ at school or work when they’re feeling sick due to the pandemic.”