GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)– According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 hospitalizations are rising as two new COVID variants grow in dominance across the country. Meanwhile, the flu season will be upon us in just a few short weeks.

We spoke with an urgent care director about how to prepare for both, in this week’s “Ask the Expert”, in partnership with Bon Secours St. Francis.

Covid hospitalizations were up nearly 20 percent in one week last month, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“There is a resurgence. The cases have picked up quite a bit since school started and people are starting to get back together in larger groups.”

Dr. Matthew Delfino, Regional Medical Director at AFC Bon Secours Urgent Care

Dr. Matthew Delfino, Regional Medical Director at AFC Bon Secours Urgent Care, says that current vaccines do not target the new variant specifically. So, it’s possible for vaccinated people to still get COVID.

“However, it’s generally thought that if you’ve been vaccinated all the way up to the maximum level, that you have protection against the variant that’s circulating, and you still won’t get as sick,” said Dr. Delfino.

This week, the FDA signed off on updated COVID-19 vaccines that target circulating variants.

Dr. Delfino recommends keeping up with all COVID shots, as well as the flu vaccine.

He says it is safe to get both shots at the same time.

“However, if you have the flexibility, and you’re able to separate them by about two weeks, usually we think that the immune system will have a better response to each of the vaccines. So, if possible, do that. But if not, it’s more important to get the vaccines than to skip one or the other.”

Dr. Matthew Delfino, Regional Medical Director at AFC Bon Secours Urgent Care

Dr. Delfino says the symptoms of the flu and covid are very similar.

“They can present with runny nose, cough, fever, headaches, body aches, and chills,” said Dr. Delfino.

He says if you’re having any of those symptoms to stay home.

“If you’re struggling with COVID or flu, you have to remember these are normally self-limited things that will pass if you treat them with over-the-counter medications, plenty of rest, and fluid,” said Dr. Delfino.

But, if you are having difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, or can no longer think clearly, seek medical attention.

Dr. Delfino says, “If somebody has COVID or flu, they’re both types of viruses, respiratory viruses. We have antiviral treatments, specifically designed for each of those. So, if you had the flu, you could get a specific antiviral treatment. It’s a pill that you would take for five days. And if you have COVID, the same thing, a specific antiviral treatment.”

Dr. Delfino says you can be tested for both flu and COVID at an urgent care and results come back pretty quickly, within 10 to 15 minutes.

To submit a health topic for our ‘Ask the Expert’ series, click here.