RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – With the flu season fast approaching, you may be wondering when to get your flu shot.

Health experts say last year’s flu season was mild thanks in part to social distancing and masks. With more kids in school and more public areas open, this year could be worse.

“This year, unfortunately, everyone is kind of back to normal, interacting with one another,” Dr. Rebekah Sensenig, an infectious disease specialist with Riverside Health System, told ABC affiliate, WVEC.

COVID-19 and the flu have similar symptoms but the one that sets them apart: loss of sense of taste or smell. Doctors say that’s a sign you may have COVID-19.

As some hospitals reach or are near capacity, the concern is a bad flu season could put more stress on hospitals.

“We’re nervous that when you add an influenza season if it’s a bad one, we may not be able to handle all of that,” Sensenig said. “And then you have to worry about what can happen to the patients if there’s no room.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu activity begins to pick up in October with peaks happening between December and February.

Sensenig says older populations can wait until October to get their flu shot so immunity lasts longer. Younger people can start rolling up their sleeves now.