CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — While some families are anxiously awaiting the COVID-19 vaccine for younger children, pediatricians say now is the time to get the flu shot.

Dr. Martha Perry is the chief of adolescent medicine for UNC’s outpatient clinics and provides expertise in quality and safety at UNC Children’s.

She says older kids and adults can get the flu shot and COVID-19 shot at the same time, and she expects that will be the case for younger children as well, if and when the vaccine is authorized for them.

“I think there’s no reason they can’t get them together, but because the flu vaccine is available now and it’s unclear when the COVID vaccine will be available for that younger age, I would go ahead and get the flu vaccine now,” she said.

Perry says it’s hard to know what to expect from this year’s flu season.

Last year was very mild, and she hasn’t seen flu increasing yet in the Triangle, but she has seen other respiratory viruses in children that usually show up in the winter.

“Kids are getting sicker because they’re having more respiratory viruses at once including COVID, and that’s resulting in significant respiratory compromise, being in the hospital requiring intubation significant oxygen support, when kids typically tolerate those viruses without requiring hospitalization,” explained Perry. “The sooner you get the flu vaccine, given the unpredictability of all those viruses, the sooner the better.”