(WHTM) — Ahead of what could be a more severe flu season, it’s time for parents to start thinking about taking their kids to get a flu shot.

“We can often predict what our flu season is going to look like by following the other side of the world, whose flu season starts earlier than ours,” explained Kimberly Giuliano, MD, pediatrician for Cleveland Clinic Children’s. “And what we’re seeing in other parts of the world, most specifically Australia, is that they are having an earlier onset of their flu season as well as higher rates. And so if that trend continues, we will likely be seeing that here in the U.S. as well.”

Dr. Giuliano recommends a flu shot for all children ages 6 months and older. She urges that kids get the flu vaccine in September or October before cases start to pick up. She said the flu shot is safe and helps prevent severe disease and even death.

Children can also get the COVID-19 vaccine and other routine vaccinations at the same time as their flu shot.

While kids with underlying health conditions are more likely to have complications from the flu, all kids are still at risk.

“We do see severe flu every single year in our hospitals, in children who were otherwise healthy. So healthy today, healthy their entire life, and in the hospital with severe pneumonia needing oxygen and sometimes even ventilator support,” she said.

Dr. Giuliano said it’s also important for kids to practice good hand hygiene, cough into their arms instead of their hands, and stay home when sick.