LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- As respiratory illnesses rise, health officials see lagging vaccination rates, along with persistent racial disparities in flu shot uptake. Doctors say now is the time to get vaccinated to get maximum protection before the holidays.
Surveillance data reveals cases are spreading in many states, including the West Coast. The CDC is reporting nearly a 4% increase in flu-related doctors' visits.
"We definitely saw some this past week, I did see some cases," said Theera Thamlikitkul, PharmD., district leader of CVS Health.
That's why for National Influenza Vaccination week, major pharmacy retailers like CVS are making the flu and every other vaccine newly available this winter easily accessible.
"I would say this is probably the best time for us to get it just, you know, a week or two before the holidays," said Thamlikitkul.
"I believe in the science thing," said vaccine customer Jimmy Masada.
Masada gets his flu shot every fall. During his recent visit, he was getting the new RSV vaccine for adults 60 and older. He and his wife keep up with every recommended COVID shot, which Masada said saved him.
"I caught COVID But it was really mild," he said.
Whether and when you get a flu shot depends on three factors. A recent CVS survey of U.S. Consumers found timing, convenience and scheduling made all the difference in whether they got a flu shot.
"What's great about it is that we can schedule the whole family in groups, you want to bring friends and families, you want to get multiple shots at the same time. And they also selectively show you the real balance on hand of where we have the vaccine in real time," Thamlikitkul said.
CDC research shows Blacks and Latinos are more likely to have serious health outcomes from flu and are less likely to get vaccinated. The "Get My Flu Shot" campaign reminds everyone not to delay.
While shopping and decorating may be your priority, health experts say getting the vaccines you need should be at the top of your holiday health list.
"Maintain some healthy diets, get enough sleep, make sure we wash our hands, right, and take care of our young ones as well," he said.