This 1977 image depicts a photomicrograph of an unidentified tissue sample, that was been processed using the indirect immunofluorescent antibody (IFA) technique, and viewed under fluorescent lighting. Note the detection of what had been the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a negative-sense, enveloped RNA virus. The virion is variable in shape and size (120 - 300 nm), is unstable in the environment, surviving only a few hours on environmental surfaces, and is readily inactivated with soap and water and disinfectants.(Dr. H. Craig Lyerla/CDC via Bay City News)

Not only is it the season to be jolly, it’s also the season for catching a nasty virus, warned Santa Cruz County public health officials.

The spread of the flu and the Respiratory Syncytial Virus came early this year and is still on the rise, causing a higher rate of children being hospitalized throughout California, said the Santa Cuz County of Public Health.

As a result, public health officials are asking residents to practice common techniques to avoid the spread of an illness, like staying home if they’re sick, washing hands frequently and covering a cough or sneeze. Residents are also encouraged to receive their flu shot and the latest COVID-19 booster and avoid going to emergency care with a mild illness.

“These same tools we learned from COVID-19 continue to be the best we have to get through the respiratory virus season together,” said Dr. Cal Gordon, Deputy Health Officer for the County of Santa Cruz.

To schedule a flu and COVID-19 vaccination appointment, residents can visit myturn.ca.gov.