AUSTIN, Texas - Doctors in Central Texas are predicting a more severe flu season than in years past, and they say now is the time to protect yourself.
"Have I gotten the flu shot personally? No, I have not yet," said Lance Hyder of Austin.
Ready or not, flu season is here.
"I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten a bad case of the flu before, so I want to stay away from it the best I can," said Zay Lynch, who says she plans to get her shot.
"We're starting to see cases ramp up over the last week or two," said Dr. Ryan McCorkle, an Emergency Department physician at St. David’s Medical Center in Austin.
State numbers show positivity rates on the rise week over week, with one pediatric death reported last week—potentially a sign of things to come.
"Well, we haven't been getting our low-level exposures to the seasonal flu over the last couple of years because we've been isolating due to COVID, we've been masking," said McCorkle. "It will be a little more novel to our immune systems. So we're expecting it to be perhaps a little more intense than the run-of-the-mill flu season."
In fact, data from Australia shows a so-called "rebound escalation" of flu cases earlier this year—a trend that the U.S. is expected to follow.
"Every year we have a large number of flu deaths. It is not something to be underestimated or taken lightly," said McCorkle. "The flu really kind of puts people low for several days, up to a week."
Experts say children under two and people over 65 are at highest risk—especially those with conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, COPD and asthma. But the CDC says everyone should get the seasonal flu shot—and do it soon.
"So your immunity has a chance to ramp up before you are gathering in airports, getting together with elderly family members in a closed space, that kind of thing that we're going to do over Thanksgiving and Christmas. So that's why it's very, very important we get this done right now," said McCorkle.
Still, Hyder says he’s not ready to commit to getting his shot.
"Maybe. It’s a big maybe. I don’t necessarily get sick," said Hyder.
"Yes, I’m going to get my shot. I don’t want to get sick," said Lynch.
Experts say there’s nothing wrong with getting your flu shot and your COVID booster at the same time—just be prepared for a little extra soreness and fatigue the next day.
Flu season is expected to peak around February.