CHARLESTON, WV (WVNS) — The seasons are changing and it’s getting colder out, meaning sicknesses are more likely to spread.

Doctors and other healthcare professionals stress that the flu shot should be taken, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic still around, urging that it should be mandatory.

Allie Phillips, the Population Health Manager for the Lenowisco and Cumberland Plateau Health Districts, explained why the flu and getting the shot should be taken seriously.

“In general, each year, more than 200,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized from complications from the flu, and around, like 36,000 die as a result, so with the COVID-19 pandemic still underway, it’s more important than ever that individuals do their part to help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses,” said Phillips.

Phillips added other ways to keep yourself from getting sick saying, “Avoid close contact with people who are sick, stay home when you’re sick, which will help prevent you from spreading, or others catching an illness, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing and sneezing, wash your hands. Kind of the same stuff we do to prevent COVID, you’re gonna want to do to prevent the flu from spreading it or catching it.”

It is recommended that everyone 6 months of age and older should get the flu shot.