RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- After two years of small family gatherings due to COVID-19, this year some families plan to do it big like Mikaela Cooper. "Big family dinner, having everybody together all the kids, all the fixings everything," said Cooper.
But scaling back might not be a bad idea this year. CDC data shows flu activity is highest in the south. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is also tracking the percentage of emergency department visits for people with flu-like illnesses and that's also high. Typically, numbers aren't up until December. Cases started to rise last month. Cooper's children were a part of that number. "It's sad to see your babies be really sick, and especially how hard it hits them for the days following. How ill they are and how down it puts them for the days following," described Cooper.
Even with two bouts of the flu that wasn't enough for Cooper to change up her family's Thanksgiving plans.
"I'm hoping that we've already gone through everything that we needed to go through at this point. So, you know, I think at this point, we're, we're probably pretty safe."
It was the same story from other people in Raleigh Thursday night. They shared, that respiratory illnesses are the furthest thing from their mind this holiday season.
"It's something that's in the back of my head, but I don't think about it a lot," said Matay Hinton. She typically wears mask when she's out. "When I go to Walmart or something like that I will put a mask on, but try not to think about it."
The latest High Point University poll found 56% of North Carolinians have not received their seasonal flu vaccine this year.
Knox Butcher hasn't gotten his flu shot yet "I've never got my flu shot. And there was a stint there where I was getting a flu once a year for about three years."
But doctors are urging flu vaccines as protection this holiday season. "It's important for protecting your own health and that's critical," said Dr. Zack Moore.
"As we know, with COVID, and flu and RSV, all these respiratory infections that what happens in your body does not stay in your body, you know, it has an impact on those around you and on your loved ones," Moore continued.