HONOLULU (KHON2)– Health officials are predicting an avalanche of respiratory infections this winter. They’re urging everyone to get their COVID booster and flu shots as a layer of protection.

Winter is fast approaching and with it, Queen’s Health System Hospital Epidemiologist Dr. Erlaine Bello is predicting an uptick in COVID and flu cases.

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“If the patterns of the past two years in the pandemic hold true, this year, we would be looking at a winter COVID surge, which would be around the same time that we typically see a spike in our flu cases,” Bello said. “It could be an avalanche of respiratory infections.”

Bello said pandemic protocols and mask mandates helped keep the flu at bay. It will likely be back even stronger this year.

KHON asked, “Can you get the flu and COVID at the same time?”

“Yes, unfortunately,” said Hilton Raethel President of the Health Care Association.

“You can get infected with more than one virus or disease at the same time.”

Raethel is urging everyone to get the bivalent COVID booster and the flu shot.

Places like CVS Pharmacy are currently offering both. Appointments are required for the booster, but walk-ins are welcome for the flu shot.

Brooks Baehr, the spokesperson for the Hawaii Department of Health, said they’ve already ordered 37,800 doses of the new COVID booster and plan to order more in the coming weeks. Almost everyone is eligible to get the shot.

“The new bivalent doses are available for everybody who is 12 and older,” Baehr said. “You must have completed your initial vaccine series or your primary series. So, in other other words, one or two shots of Moderna, the Pfizer, and you have to have completed that at least two months ago.”

All COVID vaccines are currently free to the public. Once federal funding runs out at the end of this year, Raethel said people may have to pay for the shots and antibody therapies come January. He said it’s a good idea to get up-to-date on your shots now.

Click here to see where you can get your COVID booster shot.

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Click here to see where you can get a flu shot