RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- While it may seem like months away, fall and the seasonal illnesses that come with it are unfortunately right around the corner.
This summer the CDC has made some slight changes to its recommendations for vaccinations related to COVID-19, flu, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
While COVID-19 metrics have been trending down since January, the last few years have demonstrated that these metrics can surge randomly. Plus, fewer reported cases do not mean the virus is gone.
"It's still around and it's going to stay with us. We hope we don't develop a new variant that's even more deadly," said Dr. David Weber, the medical director of UNC's Dept. of Infection Prevention. "I do expect that in the next year, even with the lower cases, it will rival RSV and the flu for the number of people who get hospitalized or die of the disease."
North Carolina is averaging around 159 COVID-19-related hospitalizations a week since May.
Nationwide, XBB strains of the virus account for a majority of new cases.
Federal officials recently voted to tweak the COVID-19 vaccine to target XBB variants specifically. It's a tweak that officials hope leads to an increased number of people getting a booster.
Sixty-three percent of North Carolinians received the first round of vaccinations and only one out of five of those people received a second booster, according to state vaccination data.
"It is going to be easier going forward, is going to be likely a single shot once a year in the way that we're used to with flu shots," explained Dr. Thomas Holland, an associate professor of medicine at Duke University. "I would hope that the uptake for that is similar to what we've seen over the years with flu shots."
This new vaccine is expected to be available in September.
Last year, the flu season came a bit early. However, Holland said that doesn't mean we will see the same trend this year.
"I think we don't really know when the sort of seasonal or winter rest viral season will arrive," he said.
Doctors said the best advice is to get the flu shot as soon as it becomes available, likely in September or October.
The CDC said you could get a shot earlier if you are pregnant in your third trimester or if your child is seeing the doctor now and will not have a chance to return this fall.
Last year vaccinated people were 40-70% less likely to be hospitalized for the flu.
Another vaccine to keep an eye on is the newly-approved RSV vaccine. However, not everyone should expect to schedule a shot.
"I expect it'll be the ones that have some underlying lung disease, things like emphysema or COPD, or folks that have underlying heart disease. Those are the people that will be at the most risk of having a bad outcome with RSV infection. And that's likely where the priority will be for vaccination this year," Holland explained.
Right now these vaccines are expected to be geared for adults 60 years old and up.
"These vaccines are approved because they work and because they save lives. And so the more uptake we have for all of us is going to be protective both for us as individuals and for the community that's around us," Holland said.
All three are expected to be available this fall.
Before these vaccines become available, doctors said there are other ways you can try to keep the germs away. Stay home if you feel sick and wear a mask in public if you have any symptoms.