DES MOINES, Iowa — Healthcare workers are urging people to get a flu shot and the new COVID-19 booster ahead of this year’s cold season.

The recent spike in COVID cases caused concern among healthcare workers. As the weather gets colder, healthcare workers typically get busier. According to the National Library of Medicine, COVID season is from November through April and flu season runs from October through November.

Healthcare workers are concerned with how a rise in COVID and flu cases may impact the healthcare system through a rise in hospitalizations.

That’s why, experts say protective measures are important so people can protect themselves and maintain a stable healthcare system.

Dr. Jeff Brock is an Infectious Disease and Pharmacy Specialist at MercyOne Hospital. He advises that on top of staying up to date on COVID and flu vaccines, people who are high risk can also wear masks.

Dr. Brock said, “We always get anxious around this time of year just because we don’t know what’s going to happen. Particularly since now, we’re seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases, and if we get inundated with a bunch of Influenza patients, it can really overwhelm our healthcare system pretty quickly. So, that’s why we really encourage people to go out and get their flu shots as well as their COVID shots when they’re available to help protect them as well as keep our health system functioning in an efficient manner.”

Flu shots are already available throughout Iowa in most local pharmacies. They’re currently available in all Hy-Vee Pharmacy locations without a prescription. You can contact your local store pharmacy to check their availability.

As for COVID boosters, the FDA approved a new COVID-19 vaccine on Monday and the CDC signed off on the vaccine on Tuesday. This new booster shot is meant to target the XBB variants, which are the main cause of current cases.

The new COVID booster is expected to become available across the country as early as Wednesday.

The FDA said that anyone can get the new booster, regardless of whether they received the last COVID vaccines, and the CDC advises that anyone six months or older can get vaccinated.