After the COVID-19 pandemic made the 2020-2021 flu season virtually non-existent, this year the influenza virus is poised to return with a vengeance.

That’s the word from health experts, who are expected a worse-than-normal flu season this winter. As proof, they point to Australia, which recently saw its worse flu season in five years. “The Southern Hemisphere has had a pretty bad flu season, and it came on early,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “Influenza, as we all have experienced over many years, can be a serious disease — particularly when you have a bad season.”

Because the U.S. flu season generally starts in October and peaks between December and February, Vanderbilt University Professor William Schaffner recommends getting a flu shot before Halloween. “The most important thing people can do is to get vaccinated against influenza,” he says. “People have been so preoccupied with COVID that they’ve forgotten about influenza, but the flu can also be severe.”

Do you get a flu shot every year?