UVA Health: Flu season comes early, COVID transmission rates remain low

Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 3:22 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - There is something in the air this season, and it’s not just holiday cheer.

“The flu is much earlier than we’ve experienced in the last five or 10 years. Usually, flu comes up January until early March,” Doctor Bill Petri with UVA Health said. “We have just as high levels right now at the beginning of December.”

Dr. Petri says this year is very unusual, but there is some good news.

“The vaccine is a very good match for the kind of flu variants that we have right now,” the doctor said. “It’s definitely not too late to get your flu shot, because you’ll be protected within a week.”

Because the Charlottesville area is seeing a spike in flu now, it isn’t likely to have another spike in the spring.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 transmission rates remain low.

“You know, low levels of transmission still mean across the country - we’re having 2600 people die each week of COVID-19 - and I have like one friend in the hospital right now with it. So it’s definitely still there,” Dr. Petri said. “We probably are going to see, you know, a Christmas-New Year’s peak in the pandemic again. And the reason I say that is that there’s a couple new variants out there called BQ 1 and BQ 1.1, and those are better able at evading the vaccines.”

Petri emphasized the importance of getting a bivalent booster before the holiday season.

“It’s hard to imagine something that you could do as easy as getting your shot at the drugstore that’s going to like reduce your risk of dying by 50%,” he said.

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