The Fall is here and that means flu season is right around the corner. It is never a welcome reminder to hear about its return, but this year it is more important to make sure you get a flu shot before the season takes off.

Last year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated that 38 million Americans were sick with the flu and 400,000 ended up in the hospital. On top of these figures, it adds that 22,000 people died after contracting the flu. Ahead of this flu season, there are warning signs that it will be more “unpredictable” than last year because health experts are uncertain which variant of the flu will be predominant.

The CDC explains that when vaccines are “well-matched” to the circulating flu virus, they can reduce the risk of illness by between 40% and 60%, which underlines the challenges that this season promises to bring.

If there’s one thing that this year’s flu shares in common with last year, it is that they are both taking place in parallel with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus’ Delta variant has been particularly infectious and it has pushed hospitalizations, infections and deaths higher across the United States. As Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert put it; ““We don’t want to have a bad flu season complicating what we’re seeing already with Covid-19.”

So how can you stay safe?

First, you still make sure that you get your flu shot. Dr. Clare Rock, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, told CNBC that while no vaccine is "ever 100% effective", being vaccinated goes far in reducing your odds of getting seriously sick if you come down with the flu.

Rock also recommends that you get your flu shot before the peak of flu season now at the start of the Fall. The peak season that sees the most infections takes place between December and February, so if you’re vaccinated now, you’ll breathe easier by the time holidays in that time of year arrive.

By staying healthy or at the very least limiting how bad the infection is, you stay further away from the hospital where the chances of contracting COVID-19 may also be higher. Hospitals in several states are presently struggling with a shortage of beds and resources to treat patients, so getting a flu shot helps ease that burden on the medical system.

Second, do your best to get vaccinated against COVID-19 too. About 76.1% of the U.S. population has now been at least partially vaccinated, but the odds of catching it still exist. Not to mention that the CDC says you can catch COVID-19 at the same time as the flu and the symptoms can be similar, making diagnosis trickier.

Third, follow all the precautions you might have been already been following since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Wear your mask in public spaces, maintain good hygiene and be careful to avoid overcrowded places. As more people return to work, school and travel for Fall holidays, it is even more important that you keep your guard up and avoid unnecessary risks to your health or that of your loved ones.

Finally, if you’re worried about getting two vaccinations at the same time, it is completely safe. Speaking to WebMD in an interview, Dr. Andrew Noyme from the Department of Population Health & Disease Prevention at the University of California, Irvine said that there should not be any problem getting the two at the same time.

"People often wonder, can the body ‘handle’ two vaccines simultaneously? The answer is yes, and we do this all the time. The MMR vaccine given to children is, in fact, a cocktail of three vaccines, and the MMRV is a cocktail of four. So I'm not concerned by dual administration of influenza and COVID vaccines," Noymer explained.

Noymer added that it was also practical to get both shots on the same visit. After-all, the most common reason people miss their shots is because they schedule them separately and just end up missing the next appointment.

So, save yourself some time, and get both your jabs in one day.