Flu forecast predicts big flu season ahead

As kids head back to school, many parents will be rushing to get up to date on vaccinations, but new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics is suggesting another shot be added to the list.

It might still officially be summer, but healthcare professionals are already worried about the flu.

“This year we are looking at a really bad flu season in Australia already, and I think people should be thinking about getting their flu shot early,” said Beverly Schaefer, owner and pharmacist at Katterman’s pharmacy.

Just how flu season will affect the United States is often determined by watching what’s happening in Australia and in the southern hemisphere. They are experiencing one of the worst flu outbreaks they've ever had.

The severity is due in part to a lack of people getting their flu shots.

Doctors say everyone over six months old should be vaccinated, and kids are high on the priority list.

"Children are the great distributors (of) the influenza virus. They give it to each other, and then they bring it home and give it to grandparents and uncles and aunts and moms and dads," said Dr. William Schaffner, from Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

This year's vaccine is quadrivalent, meaning the shot will protect against four strains of the flu.

“There's no harm in getting in early this is the same vaccine that will have all year, so there's no reason to wait,” says pharmacist Schaefer.

And even though last year's vaccine was only about 50 percent effective, doctors still say it's the best option to protect against the flu.

"Influenza is a serious illness. It can take a healthy person and make them so sick that they have to go to the emergency room and be admitted and it can happen fast, within 24 hours," said Schaffner.

Since there is no harm in getting your flu vaccine early, doctors suggest getting the shot while you are getting the vaccines required for school.

© 2017 NBCNEWS.COM


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