BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The holiday season is in full swing. And as families gather, health experts are warning of an uptick in illnesses. With talks of a “tripledemic,” many have questions.

The “tripledemic.” COVID-19, respiratory syncytial virus and the flu. Those are the big three illnesses doctors are worried about this holiday season.

Dr. Nancy Nielsen is an infectious disease expert with the University at Buffalo’s Jacobs School of Medicine.

“Don’t let your fatigue with being told what to do and what you have to do get in the way of common sense protecting yourself,” said Nielsen.

“If we’re going to have family gatherings and you’re not immunized,” she added. “Please get immunized today. And you can get the flu vaccine and the COVID vaccine on the same day. Just different arms.”

Dr. Nielsen says getting vaccinated against these viruses is the first line of defense. Another line of defense — wearing a mask.

“There was a great pushback against mask mandates, and frankly I don’t think mask mandates are going to come back,” Nielsen said. “If you are going out indoors to a large gathering, just wear a mask. If you’re going to church on Christmas Eve or Christmas, wear a mask.”

Meanwhile, some have voiced concerns about the possible return of the mask mandate in schools. A memo from the New York State Departments of Health and Education suggested masking, but not requiring it.

“I really do not believe for a minute that it is the intention of the New York State Education Department or New York State Department of Health to mandate masks across the state for kids in school,” said Michael Cornell, superintendent, Hamburg Central School District.

“It’s vitally important to the life of every child and family,” Cornell added. “And we will do everything we need to do to make sure schools are open and normally operating every day for kids. So, that’s our obligation.”

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Patrick Ryan is an award-winning reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.