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News from South America sparks hope for U.S. flu season

As COVID-19 reminded us, monitoring a virus, and the effectiveness of its vaccines, requires a global perspective.

Early data from South America suggests good news for the upcoming flu season — at least, for those who get their shots.

Analysis of data from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay from late March to early July — early winter flu season in South America — found flu vaccines reduced the risk of hospitalization by 52%.

It’s not a given that North America’s flu season will resemble that of its neighboring continent. But, if the same flu strains spread and prevail in the U.S., it’s a good sign that the county’s flu vaccines will provide similar protection against severe illness this fall and winter.

CDC recommends everyone in the U.S. 6 months and older get vaccinated, especially those who are at higher risk of serious complications, such as very young children, people with preexisting health conditions, pregnant people and older adults.

September and October are good times to do get inoculated.

Nicholas Gerbis was a senior field correspondent for KJZZ from 2016 to 2024.