TOPEKA (KSNT) — Around this time last year, people noticed a spike in COVID-19 cases, and health experts are now warning people to get prepared for the same thing this year.

Jared Schreiner, chief medical officer at Topeka ER and Hospital, confirmed that cases of the virus do rise during the winter months.

“The weather is cooler and we spend more time indoors. It’s not necessarily that cold weather makes viruses more dangerous or more virulent but more because we are all packed into closed spaces and not spread out in the nice outdoors as much,” said Schreiner.

At this time of year, there’s also a lot more travel around the holidays. He said that even though many people are vaccinated now, there is a good majority of people who still are not, making it easier for the virus to spread.

“There’s always going to be an uptick in respiratory viruses spreading after people have gathered together, and certainly the holidays are no exception to that,” he said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 appears to spread more easily than the flu, though health experts say the coronavirus is transmitted very similarly to how the flu spreads.

Respiratory illness typically spreads through both large and small particles that come out of people’s mouths when they sneeze, cough, and talk.

“Most of us believe that we are going to see the same sort of pattern with the flu, which is seasonal,” Schreiner said.

The CDC said COVID-19 can cause more serious illnesses in some people compared with the flu. COVID symptoms can also take longer to appear, and people can be contagious for longer, the agency said.

Vaccination can slow the spread of both illnesses. Most pharmacies, grocery stores, and doctors’ offices are now offering both the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine. Experts have said that getting both at the same time is safe.