(WTRF) – Holiday planning is in full swing. People are buying presents and decorating their houses, but there’s one other preparation that doctors feel is crucial right now.

 That’s to take precautions against the flu and COVID-19. 

There’s a lot of folks that won’t get severely ill, but you could pass it on to someone else.

Dr. Michael Stevens, System Healthcare Epidemiologist, WVU Health System

Dr. Michael Stevens. who is the System Healthcare Epidemiologist at WVU Health System said flu cases and hospitalizations are at higher numbers than we’ve seen in a decade. 

So, he urges the public to be smart about holiday gatherings. What you do in the weeks leading up to Christmas could determine if you celebrate safely. 

Maybe in that week before hand do some extra things to reduce the risk that you get infected and subsequently infect other folks. Maybe mask when you’re in public. Certainly if you have symptoms of a respiratory illness don’t gather or get tested to make sure you don’t have flu or COVID so you’re not exposing others.

Dr. Michael Stevens, System Healthcare Epidemiologist, WVU Health System

Dr. Stevens explained it’s also critical to get a flu shot to help protect yourself and others. If you’re going to be around people who are elderly, have chronic health problems or are immunocompromised, Dr. Stevens said the vaccine is the best way to help make sure they don’t get sick.

Since the vaccine needs about two weeks to take effect, now is the perfect time to get your shot to be safe for the holidays.