PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The cooler weather is definitely here. It’s also the third fall and winter with COVID-19 still circulating and doctors are warning of an accompanying flu season which could be as bad — or worse — than years past.

Dr. Peter Graven, a data analyst at OHSU, said predictors show a potentially severe flu season. Countries like Australia in the southern hemisphere, which has their winter during our summer, were hit hard. Graven said that is a warning sign.

In the past few years there haven’t been many hospitalizations or deaths from the flu, but Graven said thay could change this year. People are masking less these days and will spend more time indoors during the cooler weather.

“I think all the signs would be that, you know, we should expect a strong (flu) season here. And, you know, of course the preventive measures are the same, which is getting your getting your vaccines and so that helps for the flu,” Graven told KOIN 6 News.

To prevent and mitigate the spread Graven suggests getting both the flu shot and COVID booster. Immunity has waned in those who either got sick or boosted last December.

But he also said fewer people seem eager to get the newest booster compared to last winter.

Doctors at OHSU also said all signs point to another surge in COVID cases — and it could start anytime. But Graven said the good news is that most everyone has some immunity from infection, vaccination or both. With each new variant the risk of being infected remains high but the likelihood of hospitalization or death has decreased over time.

“As you get more exposures to it,” Graven said “your body finds ways to remember it, make sure it doesn’t have a bad impact.”