SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – As flu cases rise in other countries, Bay Area health experts warn not to take the flu lightly.

On Thursday, a pair of Sutter Health doctors are advising everyone 6-months and older to get a flu shot.

“I worry that we might begin to see an increase in flu cases,” Ranjani Kalyan, M.D., Sutter Health Infectious Disease Specialist, said. 

“I definitely think that there’s going to be more viral illnesses this winter,” Jennifer Louie, M.D., Sutter Health Pediatric Urgent Care Specialist, said. 

COVID-19 safety precautions like wearing masks, distance learning, keeping our distance, and working from home helped keep flu cases way down last year.

“We really took a lot of precautions at home, at work, like this, having a lot of remote sessions. We really didn’t have those opportunities to transmit the virus,” Dr. Kalyan said. 

However, doctors at Sutter Health explain why last year’s relatively non-existent flu season is not likely to repeat this year.

“Since August we have been extremely busy in our pediatric urgent care. A lot of it is actually cold and cough already. So, if this trend continues, since the kids are luckily back in school but we know that they do need to take off their masks when they’re eating or for some of the little ones when they’re napping. It’s hard to wash your hands all of the time. Hopefully, we can get the flu vaccine out and get everyone protected,” Dr. Louie said. 

What does the science tell health experts at the CDC about the safety of getting a flu shot and a COVID-19 vaccination?

“As they have looked at how vaccines behave, they’re not seeing any evidence of issues or any issues with getting the flu vaccine with the COVID vaccine. So, it is safe to get the flu vaccine with the COVID vaccine and that really should happen as soon as possible,” Dr. Kalyan said. 

Sutter Health officials advise getting your flu shot by the end of October, well before winter flu season begins.