FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The holiday season is in the middle of -- what health officials are calling - a "triple-demic" of COVID, the flu and RSV.
Families and friends will soon get together to celebrate the holiday season, all while hospitals and doctors are preparing for even more patients to become ill.
"Just because you've had one respiratory virus doesn't mean that you can't get another one because they're all circulating," explained Dr. Dee Lacy.
The infectious disease chief at Kaiser Permanente Fresno said protecting yourself and others from catching the virus should begin right now, before you get to any holiday gathering.
She stresses getting vaccinated against COVID, and especially the flu, which she said is having a big comeback following an almost non-existent flu season in 2020.
"It's the earliest most severe flu season in a long time -- the earliest in seven years, the highest hospitalizations in 10," Dr. Lacy said.
According to doctors, you'll reach full protection two weeks after vaccination. This means people should get vaccinated by Saturday, at the latest.
"You will have some protection by Christmas, and certainly, you'll have better protection by New Years," said Dr. Lacy.
Tests also protect you and your loved ones.
Dr. Lacy recommends taking a COVID test before meeting with others.
If you're positive, stay home. If you're negative, but you feel sick or you're showing symptoms, skip the party.
"If you have a positive test and you're someone at an increased risk of going on to severe COVID, contact your doctor about getting therapy early on, as well as staying home and taking care of yourself," she said.
Lastly, mask up in public.
Dr. Lacy said this prevents you from getting infected and then passing it on to people at risk of getting severely ill.
"If you know 'I'm going to get together with some people later in the season who are fragile,' now's the time to mask up," she said.
Health officials expect hospitals, doctor's offices and urgent cares to be busy throughout March but hope people take action by following preventative measures.