Sep 3, 2021, 11:03:20 AM CDT Feb 27, 2023, 3:18:58 PM CST

What to know for the 2022-2023 flu season

Read about the latest predictions and how to protect your family during this year’s flu season.

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Flu season comes around every fall and lasts through the winter. Each year, new strains of flu circulate in the community. The flu vaccine is tailored to the latest flu strains. That’s why it’s important that every member of your family over 6 months old gets the flu vaccine yearly.

We asked Preeti Sharma, M.D., and Tanya Martinez, M.D., pulmonologists at Children's Health℠ and Associate Professors at UT Southwestern, to weigh in with their predictions for this year's flu season and how your family can prepare.

When does flu season 2022-2023 start?

Although the influenza virus can circulate year-round, cases typically start to appear in October and last until May. Flu season tends to peak between December and March.

What can we expect for this year's flu season?

Every flu season is different, so that can be hard to predict. However, other countries that experience their flu season ahead of North America can sometimes inform our predictions. Australia had its worst flu season in five years, meaning we could be in for a challenging season ahead.

“Getting vaccinated against the flu each year is the best way to reduce your risk of serious flu-related complications,” says Dr. Martinez. “Especially if you have high-risk family members, it’s critical that everyone receive their flu vaccine in September or October each year.”

With the risk of flu, COVID‑19 and other respiratory viruses circulating at the same time, it’s important to get a flu vaccine this year. Having more vaccinated people in the community can help reduce the spread of the flu virus.

When will the 2022-2023 flu vaccine be available?

The 2022-2023 flu vaccines are now available. The CDC recommends getting the flu shot in early fall, ideally before the end of October. It can take up to two weeks for antibodies to develop after you get the flu vaccine, so you'll want to make sure you and your kids get the vaccine before peak flu season hits.

"If you miss that early window, you and your kids should still get the vaccine. It's better late than never, especially as flu season can sometimes stretch on for months," Dr. Sharma says. "With the COVID‑19 virus still circulating, it's more important than ever to get your flu shot and take every step you can to keep your family healthy."

The CDC recommends the flu vaccine for everyone ages 6 months and older. It's especially critical for your family to get vaccinated if someone in your home has a high risk of life-threatening flu complications.

With the COVID-19 virus still circulating, it's more important than ever to get your flu shot and take every step you can to keep your family healthy.
Dr. Preeti Sharma

Can you get the flu vaccine at the same time as the COVID‑19 vaccine?

Yes, you can simultaneously receive a flu and COVID-19 vaccine or booster per CDC guidelines. There are currently no concerns with the COVID vaccine and flu vaccine spacing. However, you shouldn’t wait to get your COVID-19 vaccine or booster until it’s time to get your flu vaccine; get your COVID-19 vaccine or booster as soon as you’re eligible.

How effective will this year's flu vaccine be?

The flu vaccine effectiveness can vary. It depends on which flu strains the vaccine targets and which strains end up spreading in the community. This year's flu vaccine will target four different flu viruses (also called quadrivalent vaccines).

Each year, flu vaccines are created based on year-round monitoring of which flu strains are circulating. While there were fewer flu viruses this year, the CDC says this should not affect this year's vaccine. However, there is always the possibility that the vaccine may not exactly match the viruses that spread in your community because flu viruses are constantly changing.

Although it's hard to forecast how effective this year's flu vaccine will be, getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and your family from a serious illness.

"Even if this year's vaccine is less effective at preventing one strain of the flu, it may help protect you against another strain. It may also help lessen the severity of your symptoms and prevent serious complications from the flu," says Dr. Sharma. "Studies have shown that annual vaccination is the best way to protect against the flu and serious complications of it."

How can I keep my family healthy during flu season?

The most important step you can take to stay healthy this flu season is to make sure everyone in your family (age 6 months and older) gets the flu shot. Aside from getting the flu vaccine, make sure you also:

  • Practice good hand hygiene by washing hands with soap and water or using hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Avoid close contact with sick people
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces regularly

Currently, the CDC also recommends that everyone (over age 2) wears a face mask in public indoor places in areas with high COVID‑19 spread. Wearing a mask can reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses, including the flu.

If your child develops any flu-like symptoms, get in touch with your family doctor or pediatrician. It can be tough to tell the difference between COVID‑19 symptoms and flu symptoms, and testing may be needed to determine your child's diagnosis. It is possible to have flu and COVID‑19 at the same time.

"If anyone in your household feels sick, keep track of symptoms and take steps to reduce the spread of any illness," says Dr. Martinez. "Your doctor can share advice on COVID‑19 and flu testing and the best ways to recover."

See more advice for what to do if your child has been exposed to COVID‑19 or is showing symptoms.

Get care now

We know that getting sick is never convenient. But now you can videoconference with a health care provider 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with Virtual Visit by Children's Health Virtual Care. Get treated right from your smartphone, tablet or computer for allergies, common colds and flu, cuts and more. Download the Virtual Visit app today.

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