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Lisa Jarvis

Australia’s Early Flu Season Shows Americans Need Their Shots

Low rates of vaccination against influenza over the past two years have expanded the population of susceptible hosts. The US needs to get back on track.

It will soon be time to get back in line.

It will soon be time to get back in line.

Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images

After a two-year hiatus, the flu is back. An early uptick in cases in Australia has public health authorities there alarmed — and should prompt the US to put the familiar virus back on the public’s radar.

“There’s absolutely no doubt we’re in for a big season,” says Ian Barr, deputy director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza. Even if testing in Australia has increased, thereby identifying more people with the flu, case numbers are following a path similar to the one seen in the 2019 flu season, a record year for flu in Australia. Argentina and South Africa also are showing modest early signs of a tougher flu season.