Experts are projecting another year of record-breaking flu counts as manufacturers gear up to supply millions of vaccines across the nation. As Connecticut “flu season” approaches, let’s look at what you should know about the flu and how to protect yourself.
What is the flu?
The flu, or influenza, is a respiratory virus caused by different strains of influenza viruses. While many individuals experience mild illness, the flu can be serious— or even deadly— especially in newborns, those over age 65, and people with compromised immune systems.
The flu is contagious, spread through tiny droplets from a cough, sneeze, or basic conversation. It’s often mistaken for other, milder illnesses, but has distinct symptoms that set it apart from the common cold.
Flu symptoms may include:
- Sudden onset of symptoms
- Muscle aches
- Stuffy Nose/Congestion
- Sore Throat
- Vomiting and Diarrhea
When is the 2023 flu season in Connecticut?
While flu viruses circulate year-round, Connecticut “flu season” ramps up in October and peaks between December and January. Cases tend to gradually decline by May.
What is projected for the 2023 season?
The United States saw an estimated 650,000 hospitalizations and 58,000 flu-related deaths during the 2022-2023 season. Using influenza activity in the Southern Hemisphere as one key indicator in flu projections, experts anticipate another season with a high number of cases. Vaccine manufacturers are preparing for the increase in cases with as many as 170 million vaccine doses up for distribution across the country.
What exactly is driving the uptick in cases? One reason is the nation’s transition to finding a “new normal” after the global pandemic. In addition to waning herd immunity to viruses such as influenza, changes in public behavior have made it easier for viruses to spread from person to person.
Flu cases, for example, have increased significantly over the past year —and continue to rise— due to the decline of public health safety measures associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Less people are wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and taking other steps to stop the spread of illness. Therefore, viruses including influenza are more easily spread across communities.
How To Protect Yourself from The Flu
Get a Flu Shot
The best way to protect yourself from the flu is to get a flu shot. While vaccine effectiveness varies year to year, researchers estimate vaccination reduces flu illness by 40 to 60 percent.
Flu shots work by encouraging your body to produce protective antibodies against the flu. This means your immune system will know what to do if it comes into contact with the flu virus. Antibody protection against the flu is greatest one to two months after vaccination and slowly wanes in the following months.
Wash Your Hands
Washing your hands is an effortless way to reduce the spread of germs and illness. Wash after coughing, blowing your nose, or using the restroom, as well as before and after making or eating food. The World Health Organization recommends washing with soap and running water for the length of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. When soap and water are not accessible, hand sanitizer can work as a hand-washing substitute.
Practice Social Distancing if You or Someone You Know is Sick
The flu is highly contagious. If you have the flu, being around others puts them at risk. Likewise, being near others who are ill increases the likelihood you’ll become sick, too.
If you’ve been diagnosed with the flu, try to isolate yourself and stay home until you recover. Reschedule plans with friends and loved ones who are sick to prevent contracting it yourself.
Where can you get vaccinated?
You can get a flu shot at a variety of locations. One of the simplest ways is to call your primary care provider to schedule an appointment for your vaccine.
Even if you don’t have an established PCP, flu shots may be available at other locations, including:
- Health Departments
- Urgent Cares or Walk-In Clinics
Browse the vaccine finder to flu vaccine locations near you.
Contact Your Primary Care Doctor for a Flu Shot Today
Interested in learning more about flu vaccines, availability, and scheduling? Call us today.
To schedule an appointment, request an appointment online here or call a local center near you.
Learn More About PACT
Physicians Alliance of Connecticut (PACT) is a multi-specialty medical group led and operated by over 30 physician partners and more than 100 healthcare providers. We are committed to healthcare excellence, innovation, safety, and quality in private-practice patient care in the New Haven area of Connecticut.