Health experts warn of possible fall ‘virus surge,’ urge vaccinations

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Contributed photo courtesy of Kaiser Permanente A nurse gives a patient a flu shot. Local health experts are predicting a fall virus "surge" including cases of flu and COVID-19, and recommend getting vaccinated against both viruses in 2022.

With flu season right around the corner, health experts are concerned that concurrent viruses including flu, RSV and COVID-19 could set the stage for a tough fall and winter. The Omicron booster and flu vaccine offer the protection our communities need this fall and winter as more of us spend time indoors.

“Based on the data we have seen out of the Southern Hemisphere this year, we may have an early and aggressive flu season with significant impact on school-age children,” said Dr. Katie Sharff, chief of infectious disease for Kaiser Permanente in Portland. “The Southern Hemisphere had an early, large flu surge, and the U.S. typically mirrors that pattern. This is not the time to skip flu shots for yourself or your family.”

More viruses are expected to circulate this fall than last, in part due to behaviors changing back to “more normal,” but you can protect yourself and your loved ones by getting vaccinated and practicing healthy behaviors. “For individuals with underlying medical conditions such as heart disease or lung disease, it is essential they have an action plan as we head into viral respiratory season to help keep them healthy and out of the hospital this winter,” Dr. Sharff said.

Additionally, the updated COVID-19 Omicron booster is now available and is expected to offer the best protection against the BA.5 and BA.4 subvariants that are circulating now. To find the updated booster, check with your doctor, local pharmacy or visit any of Oregon Health Authority’s (OHA) vaccine clinics, with a list available at

Flu clinics begin at Kaiser Permanente on Sept. 19, and members can schedule both flu and COVID-19 vaccinations by appointment at