COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–As COVID hospitalizations and cases climb across the state, Central Ohio doctors are keeping a watchful eye on influenza.

Flu activity is considered to be at ‘low intensity’ here in Ohio and local doctors say it could be a wildcard come January when some expect this latest covid surge to the peak.

“Right now, because the hospitals are so full whatever we can do to keep people healthy is gonna help us,” said Dr. Nicholas Kman. He’s an emergency physician with OSU Wexner Medical Center.

He said with resources strained and a record number of COVID patients in hospitals, keeping the flu out of the emergency room is key.

“We do know that it’ll probably lessen the symptoms that you get — so not only is it important to get vaccinated against COVID and to get boosted it’s also important to get that flu shot as well.

The latest flu activity report by ODH shows flu cases are inching upwards. So far, the state has tested 175 samples for flu strains and has hospitalized 160 people for influenza. Doctors say testing is important now more than ever.

“When you look at the symptoms of influenza and COVID they overlap — without having a test done you can’t say definitively what symptom you have over another,” said Dr. Joseph Gastaldo with OhioHealth.

January is typically when flu cases ramp up. Dr. Kman said it’s important to stay home if you’re sick and if you have symptoms.

“Getting tested, making sure you don’t have any symptoms prior to the gathering is really important and following the guidance”

Flu was not a major factor during the last covid surge we went through in September. Flu season can last as late as March.

Click here for the latest reports by ODH on flu activity.