SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) is reporting that influenza (flu) and COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the state and is encouraging residents to get vaccinated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates nationwide there have already been 13 million cases, 120,000 hospitalizations, and 7,300 deaths due to flu this season. Flu vaccination is especially important for people who are at higher risk of severe disease which could result in hospitalization or death including those who are over age 65 or under 2 years, and anyone with a chronic respiratory condition, heart disease, a weakened immune system, or who is pregnant.

“Flu activity is rising, it’s actually very high across the state and obviously that includes us over here. The trend is still going up, that’s the problem. So we haven’t reached a peak yet, and you know it’s early in the season in a typical flu season,” said Armando Paez, Chief of the Division of Infectious Disease at Baystate Medical Center.

“This flu season, residents can protect themselves and their families by getting a flu vaccine even if they haven’t gotten a vaccine in years past,” said Public Health Commissioner Margret Cooke. “It’s easy to get your flu shot along with your COVID-19 booster if you’re eligible for one, and both vaccines are widely available.”

The CDC recommends getting a flu shot by the end of October but the fact that cases have not yet peaked means it’s not too late to get vaccinated for protection. COVID and flu vaccines are both available for everyone 6 months and older. People can get both a flu shot and a COVID-19 booster in the same visit.

Information on locations where you can get the flu and COVID vaccines can be found on the state’s website.