If you follow the recommendations of health officials for the upcoming cold and flu season, you'll be "feeling a little pinch" twice this year.

As the latest round of recommended COVID-19 vaccination makes its way to pharmacies and doctor's offices throughout New Jersey, officials want to make sure that flu vaccination is a top priority for residents as well.

The two shots are equally important, according to Edwward Lifshitz, medical director of the Communicable Disease Service at the New Jersey Department of Health. And, because it takes people a couple weeks to build up protection after receiving a shot, he advises Garden State residents to start moving with the process.

"Now is the time to seriously be thinking about it," Lifshitz told New Jersey 101.5. "Between now and next month — by the middle of October or so — I would strongly encourage people to go ahead and get those shots."

Both can be administered during the same visit, Lifshitz said.

COVID boosters approved by federal officials on Sept. 11 are already available in New Jersey.

Influenza vaccinations are available as well. Flu season in New Jersey typically runs from October to May, with most cases typically reported during the winter months.

"The flu, still, in a typical year will kill as many as 1,500 New Jerseyans and make a whole lot more people very ill," Lifshitz said.

If New Jersey follows the lead of the Southern Hemisphere, which is already wrapping up its flu season, the upcoming flu season should be average, Lifshitz said. However, flu season in the north doesn't always align with flu season in the south.

According to a study of South American countries, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this year's flu vaccination performed well against viruses circulating through children and adults. The U.S. 2023-2023 flu vaccines have a similar virus composition as the Southern Hemisphere flu vaccines.

Along with COVID and flu vaccination, officials are urging individuals aged 60 and older to get the first-ever approved vaccine for RSV (respiratory syncytial virus).

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