NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Cold and flu season is in full force, prompting medical officials to urge the public to get the flu vaccine.

News 2 sat down with Dr. Jeff Balser, CEO of Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Dean of Vanderbilt University Medical School, who said that even with flu, RSV and COVID all circulating earlier and harder this season, there is good news – this year’s flu vaccine has been a success.

“You know how we are always guessing as to how it’s going to match what virus actually comes at us? We have a good match this year,” Dr. Balser said.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to take advantage and get the flu shot. For weeks, Tennessee has stayed in the top purple tier on the CDC’s flu map, and that has hospitals like Vanderbilt operating at full capacity for months.

“It is concerning. On the other hand, what I hope is that that purple leaves us and we are getting ours early,” said Dr. Balser. “It’s a challenging time to be in healthcare, and I think our folks are heroes and we need to just keep telling them that.”

Although we are leaps and bounds in a better position than last year, COVID-19 is still out there, too. Dr. Balser highly recommends getting your COVID booster, which he calls a new and improved shot.

“This one is different and it’s better matched to what we know is circulating,” Dr. Balser said. “So again, it makes tremendous sense to go ahead and get the booster. It isn’t that it’s going to keep you from catching COVID, it’s going to keep you from getting dangerously sick with COVID.”