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Expert: Flu season could arrive earlier this year, be tougher on kids

WCCO Digital Update: Afternoon of Aug. 8, 2022
WCCO Digital Update: Afternoon of Aug. 8, 2022 01:13

MINNEAPOLIS -- It's our least favorite season. And this year, flu season may arrive faster than ever before. 

Dr. Stacene Maroushek of Hennepin Healthcare says it is expected to be extra tough on kids.

"There's just data now coming out of the southern hemisphere. They have a peak that's about two months before most of their normal peak," Maroushek said. "And so if we translated that to the United States and to Minnesota, what that would mean instead of having maybe peak flu season in January/February, you might be looking at October/November."   

Dr. Maroushek studies infectious diseases in children. She says this year's strain is hitting the young demo hard.

"The peak of the cases are in kids, 0-18, with the highest incidents being in kids 5-10 years of age," she said.

After splashing around in Cedar Lake with her 5- and 7-year-old, Brooke Riggs gave us her reaction to the new data.  


"It's stressful because I am at teacher and if I get sick or my kids get sick, then I … either have to take time off or find someone to take care of my kids, and no one wants to care for a sick kid," Riggs said.

So how does the data translate to Minnesota families?

"I think it translates to getting your kids vaccinated as soon as you can," Maroushek said.

And that's where the good news lies. This year's vaccine appears to be about a 94-percent match for the virus.

Maroushek suggests parents be ready -- a skill they've recently fine-tuned. 

"Everything's constantly changing," Riggs said. "We have to be adaptable."

The flu has been much milder the past few years because of COVID-19 precautions, but now kids' immunities are down.  Dr. Maroushek suggests kids and adults get a flu vaccine, which should be available late September.

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