CHICAGO (WLS) -- A severe flu season could be on the horizon. The CDC along with the National Federation of Infectious Diseases is urging people to get a flu shot.
While COVID has been the focus the past few years, doctors say people must turn their attention to the flu this year and get the shot. If not, it could be one of the worst flu seasons in years.
"We have forgotten how bad the flu is because of lockdowns and masking," said Dr. Ken Lyons of the Children's Healthcare Associates.
COVID protocols have resulted in recent mild flu seasons. This year, it is predicted to be bad based on what Australia is experiencing during it's winter season.
"(Australia) has had the worst flu season they've had in more than five years with rates three times than expected," said Chicago Dept. of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.
Public health officials are especially worried about children. Unlike COVID, the flu results in the worst outcomes for older adults and kids.
"Especially kids less than 2," Lyons said. "The risk of hospitalization is higher, the risk of complications are higher, but all kids are at higher risk."
Pediatric offices and hospitals are already seeing a big surge of respiratory illnesses in children. Since the flu vaccine takes a couple weeks to kick in, doctors urge parents to get their kids the shot now before the height of the flu season.
"There are children in Chicago who die of influenza," Arwady said. "It is almost entirely preventable with getting the flu vaccine."
The Chicago Dept. Of Public Health is worried about a flu surge because on a regular year, only half of Chicagoans get the vaccine.
Public health officials also said people ages 12 and above can get the new COVID booster at the same time, Less than 15% of Chicagoans have received the new COVID shot.
Those looking to get vaccinated can visit the city's website to find locations near you.