“The 2022-2023 flu season has started off already,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Joe McLaughlin said during a public health ECHO on Wednesday. “We are seeing some flu activity.”
Public health ECHOs are held on the third Wednesday of each month via Zoom and livestreamed on Facebook. During these ECHOs, state health officials provide updates on relevant topics — including COVID-19, influenza, monkeypox and tobacco use.
McLaughlin said 151 cases of the flu have been confirmed in Alaska in laboratory tests performed in September up to the first week of October.
“You never know when influenza activity is really going to increase,” he said.
Mid-October is generally early, McLaughlin said. Cases generally spike during the holidays, peaking in January or February.
Dr. Lisa Rabinowitz followed up during the ECHO, saying because the flu is starting to show up now, it’s time to get flu shots.
“We’ve already seen a little bit of flu action,” she said. “Get your shot so you have protection ahead of time.”
The influenza vaccine can be received at the same time as the updated bivalent COVID-19 booster, and both shots are available around the state.
Getting the vaccine can help prevent “unnecessary influenza cases and especially hospitalizations and deaths,” McLaughlin said.
Rabinowitz said, “Let’s winterize.” She said everyone 6 months and older should be getting their flu vaccine each year.
More information about vaccines and availability for both influenza and COVID-19 can be found at myhealth.alaska.gov.
Reach reporter Jake Dye at firstname.lastname@example.org.