WORCESTER, Mass.  - Healthcare providers are putting out the reminder for people to get their flu shots.

With strict COVID-19 restrictions such as mask wearing and social distancing in place last year the amount of flu last season was less than normal. Doctors are concerned with the easing of these restrictions, flu and other respiratory illnesses will return to pre-pandemic levels.

Dr. Robert Klugman of UMass Memorial Health says it's imperative to get a flu shot this flu season. He adds that a COVID-19 vaccine is not a replacement for the flu shot.

"COVID vaccine has no protection for the flu. COVID vaccine works for COVID, flu vaccine works for flu. These are very specific vaccines for specific illnesses. One doesn't protect you from the other," Dr. Klugman said. "Having had COVID doesn't protect you from COVID or the flu."

Flu season typically runs between now and January. Dr. Klugman adds that they have seen very little flu so far but expect an uptick in cases shortly.‚Äč