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Health experts predict ‘rough’ flu season, encourage people to take steps to stay healthy

By: Larissa Scott Posted at 7:02 AM, Sep 16, 2021 and last updated 7:39 AM, Sep 16, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — “I think there’s a very good likelihood that this is going to be a rough flu season,” said Dr. David Berger, Board Certified Pediatrician at Wholistic Pediatrics and Family Care.

Health experts believe that could be the case for multiple reasons. One is because there was virtually no flu season last year due to the strict COVID-19 mitigation efforts that were implemented.

“So that means that the immunity that the population would have, the herd immunity, from the past year is not going to likely be there,” said Berger.

Secondly, doctors say while it’s always a good idea to get the yearly flu vaccine, some believe there’s a chance it could be less effective this time around.

“Usually what they’ll do is look to the southern hemisphere where the wintertime is our summertime and they can look to see which strains are becoming the predominant strains. That’s how they can predict which strains to put into the next version of the flu shot, as well as what we’ve seen the previous year. So that hasn’t happened because the diseases weren’t seen. So there’s going to be a little bit more of uncertainty in terms of will they get the right strains in the vaccine,” said Berger.

That’s why Berger said it’s likely we’ll see lots of sickness this flu season. Experts believe that could be especially true in children now that they’re back in school.

Doctors think COVID-19 will continue to be a problem as well, and that we’ll see more cases of Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or RSV.

“Short of living in a bubble, people are going to catch things. How sick that they get depends on how strong their immune systems are,” said Berger.

Health experts encourage people to still get the flu shot, and don’t wait until we’re in the thick of flu season to do it.

Berger says there are some other things people can do too to try to keep their families healthy.

“In our practice, we’re really solid on making sure people have good vitamin D and Zinc levels. There’s been a lot of research this past year that shows that’s been a helpful thing for COVID. We’ve been doing it for many years because the research shows it’s good for influenza as well,” said Berger.

He says some other steps you can take include any COVID-19 imitation efforts like wearing a mask, washing your hands, and social distancing.

Berger also suggests staying away from foods that cause high inflammation.

“Things like a lot of processed foods, avoiding a lot of high sugar foods, things that can potentially obstruct the adrenal glands from properly setting our cortisol levels which are needed to properly keep the immune system in check to a certain extent,” said Berger.

Experts say if anyone in your family isn’t feeling well, get them tested.

“What are one of the things that we’ve learned about COVID? Any type of viral symptom, GI or respiratory or common cold or more severe, can be seen in COVID. And that can be true with influenza too. That’s kind of a common theme among respiratory viruses,” said Berger.

“Testing is a really important part of the overall strategy…I think it’s really important that people are not just testing for COVID. We do a respiratory panel through BayCare that looks at one single swab it’s able to look at the influenza, RSV, the regular common cold,” he added.