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Infectious disease doctor warns of heavy flu activity this fall and winter season

Experts are worried because the U.S. typically mirrors the Southern Hemisphere where right now Australia is experiencing its worst flu season in five years.

PORTLAND, Ore. — If there is any year to get the flu shot, this is the year, according to Dr. Katie Sharff of Kaiser Permanente Northwest.

Kaiser's Chief of Infectious Disease believes there will be a lot of flu activity this fall and winter due to what is happening in the Southern Hemisphere. The U.S. typically mirrors what happens in the Southern Hemisphere. 

Dr. Sharff said Australia is experiencing its worst flu season in five years. 

The virus is taking the biggest toll on school-age children. They are the most vulnerable because for the first time in a couple of years they are not wearing a face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID, said Dr. Sharff.

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"I always say get a flu shot," Dr. Sharff said. "I know there's a lot of vaccine fatigue but to remind people we have over 50 years of experience with flu vaccines. We know they're safe and effective. They may not be perfect but they help prevent severe disease and hospitalization."

Dr. Sharff recommends everyone to get the flu vaccine as well as the updated COVID booster. She said you can get both vaccines at the same time.

The updated COVID booster protects against the highly contagious and transmissible BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

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