Health officials brace for potentially dangerous flu season

  • Rachel McDevitt

(Harrisburg) — Flu season is ramping up and health officials are preparing for a potentially dangerous season.

Dr. John Goldman, an infectious disease specialist at UPMC Pinnacle, told WITF’s Smart Talk that Australia, whose flu season precedes the one here, just had a severe season.

“The Australian season can predict the American season,” he said. “The fact that we had a very bad season in Australia may mean that we have a very bad season here.”

Goldman is urging people to get the flu shot.

He said the vaccine cuts a person’s chances of catching the virus in half. It also drastically decreases a person’s chances of severe illness if they do get infected with the flu.

Goldman said some people who get a common cold after receiving the shot believe the vaccine doesn’t work.

“But the objective evidence is if you’re a high-risk person your chances of dying during flu season are cut in half by getting that shot,” Goldman said.

People at high risk of complications from the flu include adults over 65, children under 2, pregnant women, and people with medical conditions such as cancer, asthma, and diabetes.

There have been 385 flu cases reported in Pennsylvania since the end of September.

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