CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The new school year is approaching fast and parents are busy checking off their kids’ back-to-school lists.

Along with picking up school supplies, doctors are stressing parents make time to check if their kids are caught up on vaccines – especially with what could be a more severe flu season.

“As we look at the data coming from the southern hemisphere, which is how we determine and predict what the flu season may be like for our winter coming up, it’s looking like it may be a heavier flu season than we’ve seen in the past,” explained Adam Keating, MD, a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic Children’s.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month and Dr. Keating said it’s important for kids to get a flu shot every year. He noted the flu seems to cause more problems in children and the elderly.

When it comes to COVID, cases are also likely to increase this fall.

Dr. Keating said COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, and the best way to protect against the virus.

He recommends parents make an appointment with their child’s doctor if they have fallen behind on vaccinations or regular checkups amid the pandemic.

“It’s worth remembering that people are behind on their preventative care in general right now and that there are more reasons to visit your pediatrician every year than just immunizations,” said Dr. Keating. “We want to look at your growth and development. We want to do our screenings to look at mental health and social situations and be able to help out with a complete set of advice.”

Dr. Keating said kids can get vaccinated for flu, COVID and any other vaccines they may need at the same time.

Parents can also discuss if their child needs a COVID booster shot with their medical provider if they have completed their vaccination process at least five months ago.