BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Some concern is being felt from Alabama health leaders with flu season soon to be underway.

This comes as COVID-19 cases remain a threat not only statewide but nationwide. Dr. Wesley Willieford with the Jefferson County Health Department is encouraging people to take the flu shot this year. He says due to the loosening of many restrictions, including mask-wearing in public places and more events ongoing, we will see an increase in flu cases.

Last flu season the nation recorded one of the lowest flu seasons in years and many health leaders say this is due to the stringent safety measures that were in place because of the coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Willieford says so many Alabama hospitals continue to struggle with an influx of patients. He has high hopes they won’t be forced to deal with both an influx of COVID-19 and flu patients, due to what it could to the state’s health care system.

“It puts incredible stress on the nurses, the doctors, the entire hospital system. At the end of the day, they want to be able to deliver high-quality care to whoever comes in. If you have a rush of patients more patients than you have hospital beds that creates challenges,” Dr. Willieford said.

Dr. Willieford recommends the public begin getting the flu shot as early as October with the peak season of the flu coming in mid-winter. He also encourages the public to be aware of the lingering effects of what catching the flu can mean for a person’s body as well.