WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but nothing can dampen the holiday spirit quite as quickly as an illness.

Making matters worse, however, is wait times at local walk-in clinics.

Dr. Keith Williamson is MSU’s medical director, and he said, with the number of illnesses going around right now, the amount of people seeking care isn’t all that surprising.

“It’s the season of cold and flu, and a lot of people have developed infections, and when they run a fever, they get worried,” Dr. Williamson said. “We’re seeing a whole mix of viruses, primarily influenza is what’s bringing people in. There’s also circulating RSV, which is a bad cold in adults but a serious illness in little guys with little airways. There’s also adenovirus, rhinovirus.”

Not to mention, COVID-19 hasn’t really gone anywhere.

“COVID is still circulating,” Dr. Williamson said. “I think we should count our blessings that it’s not the same lethal disease it was two years ago.”

But none of these illnesses are new, so why the extended wait time at walk-in clinics?

Dr. Williamson said it has a lot to do with the extraordinarily high numbers of flu patients.

“The weird thing is, the flu started about a month and a half early this year, it’s far earlier than I usually see it,” Dr. Williamson said. “I had a day about a week and a half ago, and 100 percent of the patients I saw, every patient I saw all day had flu.”

So with the flu already impacting so many Texomans, on top of your typical seasonal viruses. It’s a perfect storm. Dr. Williamson said the best way to avoid those long urgent care lines is to stop the flu before it can start.

“We should get vaccinated,” Dr. Williamson said. “The flu vaccine is out there, it’s available, and it’s effective.”

Another way to avoid catching anything this cold and flu season is simply by applying what we learned during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Wash your hands frequently, avoid crowded places,” Dr. Williamson said. “If you’re sick, don’t go out in public, and don’t go to work or school until you’ve been fever-free for 24 hours.

Additionally, Texomans can help keep those wait times down by ensuring they’re only seeking care if it’s actually needed.

“Most of the time, unless you’ve got difficulty breathing, chest pain, any sort of life or limb threatening symptom, you can handle your symptoms yourself,” Dr. Williamson said. “Get the box of Kleenex, salt water gargles, Tylenol or Advil, and you’ll be alright in a couple of days. If you’re not, if you’ve got a high fever, or if you’ve got difficulty breathing or any of those symptoms, that’s when you go seek physician’s care.”