- Flu News & Surveillance
- Flu Prevention
Flu Season 2022 – 2023 In Review
2022-2023 was a flu season like no other. We saw an earlier start to the flu season, higher than usual pediatric hospitalizations and mortality rates, and a ‘tripledemic’ with multiple respiratory viruses circulating. As we experienced challenges, this highlighted the continued importance of fighting the flu and getting an annual flu vaccine. Let’s look at lessons learnined from this season and how we can best prepare for the next.
Lessons From This Flu Season
As mentioned, flu season peaked earlier than usual. In October 2022, the CDC reported early increases in seasonal flu, with increases happening first in the southeast and south-central parts of the United States. By December, seasonal influenza activity was high and continued to increase nationwide. The CDC estimates that during this flu season, there were at least 26 million illnesses, 290,000 hospitalizations, and 19,000 deaths from flu. Not to mention that pediatric hospitalizations and mortality rates reached numbers we haven’t seen in years, with 154 pediatric flu deaths reported as of May 26, 2023. This is the highest number of flu deaths in children since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and unfortunately, most of these children were not vaccinated.
In addition, a ‘Tripledemic’ occurred, with respiratory viruses COVID-19, RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), and flu hitting hard. Respiratory viruses impact not only us but our families and loved ones around us, too.
While it was a hard season, Families Fighting Flu and those in our networks continued our work to advocate the seriousness of the flu and the importance of receiving an annual flu vaccination. After all, influenza is one of the deadliest vaccine-preventable diseases in the U.S.; influenza vaccination is the best way to help protect yourself and your family from the flu each year. We thank all of those who have worked tirelessly to advocate online and in their communities:
- The Families in our Network
- Our inFLUencers
- Our Board of Directors
- Our Junior Board and Executive Team
- Our Medical Advisors, Donors and Sponsors
Recently, we hosted an Instagram Live with Dr. Alexandria Yarborough, PharmD. Author of the book, Our Best Shot: A story about how YOU can help keep your community safe and healthy (in collaboration with FFF) and Eric Stein, our Junior Board Advisor. They had a great conversation about this flu season, why we get the flu shot every year, and the skepticism around getting flu vaccines. Eric said many of his college friends don’t want to get a flu shot because they are “young and healthy.” The reality is that flu can be severe, even deadly, for anyone – regardless of age or health status. Just ask the family of 22-year-old Will Hauver, a healthy athlete who lost his life to flu in 2015.
This flu season, we also shared the importance of flu in the media. Highlights included:
- Shelle Allen, past president of Families Fighting Flu, shared her daughter Madi’s story on Today.com: Mom speaks out after daughter, 12, almost dies of flu.
- Interview with Eric Stein, FFF Junior Board Advisor on WUOT, about his sister Jessica’s story of losing her life to the flu: Eric Stein’s Advocacy for Flu Vaccines is Personal
- Eric’s parents, Gary and Doris (who both serve on the FFF Board of Directors), also did an interview with WJLA about Jessica: After losing daughter to the flu, Falls Church family runs non-profit to raise awareness.
Working together helps further the reach of Families Fighting Flu! We couldn’t do it without all of YOU!
Looking Ahead: How to Prepare for Next Flu Season
It’s never too early to prepare for the next flu season. Even though activity remains low, it’s important to stay diligent to stay healthy. Here are some tips to best prepare:
- Stay home if you don’t feel well (and wear a mask around others if you do have to go out).
- Wash your hands and disinfect high-touch surfaces.
- Cough into your elbows instead of your hands. Coughing into hands is more likely to spread bacteria and viruses through touch.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
If you have symptoms, get tested right away! With respiratory viruses still circulating and some symptoms overlapping, it can be easy to confuse them. That’s where testing comes in. It’s relatively simple and quick to test for flu and other viruses and should be done at the first sign of symptoms. If you test positive for flu, your healthcare provider can prescribe an antiviral medication to lessen symptoms and potentially shorten the contagious period.
Most importantly, make a plan for your next vaccine! Calling your doctor or pharmacy now to learn when you can get your flu shot is key. Some even host drive-thru clinics to get your vaccine right in the car for your whole family. Make it a point now to put this on your calendar and stick to it. Unless otherwise told by their doctor, the CDC recommends that all people ages six months and older receive a flu vaccine every year by the end of October.