CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Carolinas may be in for a terrible flu season if Australia is any indicator of what’s to come.

Health experts are looking to our neighbors down under to predict which kind of season will take shape later this fall. The Center for Disease Control produces the flu vaccine based on the strains of the influenza virus affecting others around the world.

Australia’s Immunization Coalition reported 168,337 cases so far this year. In 2016, Australia reported 91,000 cases.

“It’s not heavy yet, but we are starting to see a few and it’s interesting and early to start seeing flu cases in the middle of September,” said Dr. Charles Bregier, a flu expert with Novant Health. “It may be a bad flu season, but you just don’t know.”

Dr. Bregier said the findings show why it’s important to get a flu shot now ahead of the peak season. The more people that are vaccinated, the better, he said. Dr. Bregier also pointed out the importance of being protected for your friends and family, as well.

The CDC says flu shots cannot give you the flu. It takes approximately 14 days before the shot is fully effective, according to CDC officials.

Last year, 219 people died from the flu, according to North Carolina health officials.