ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Winnebago County health officials said the area is facing a surge in COVID-19 cases similar to the same time last year.

On top of that, healthcare workers are reportedly exhausted with the overwhelming roller coaster of patients. To minimize the impact that COVID-19 is having on health professionals, doctors are asking residents not only to get vaccinated, but to get their booster shot.

Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of OSF Healthcare St. Anthony, Dr. Stephen Bartlett, said another COVID-19 surge is here.

“We are having a COVID surge,” Bartlett said. “It’s beginning to have an impact and stress on health care workers and the nurses. We needed to recruit staff because the nursing, doctor ranks were decimated by COVID. They’re tired, and the public can do its part by getting the vaccine.”

UW Health SwedishAmerican’s Trauma Medical Director and Surgeon In Chief, Dr. James Cole, said the same is happening at their hospital.

“We have a staffing crisis, we’re having a labor issue right now,” Cole said. “There are just more patients that are requiring hospitalization for a variety of reasons, like sicker patients with more complex illness requiring longer hospitalizations, which is maxing out our census. Technicians, nurses, other personnel that cook in the kitchen, clean and so forth, it’s very difficult to work in healthcare right now, like most other areas.”

Both doctors emphasized the importance of getting the COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot.

“The booster shot is widely available now,” Bartlett said. “If you haven’t had the vaccine, get it, if you’ve had the vaccine and 6 months have gone by, get the booster shot.”

“I recommend it to everybody, I got a booster as soon as I was eligible,” Cole added. “People need to be smart, they just need to do their best, whatever it is that they choose to do, to avoid getting sick, they really should do that.”

Bartlett explained that anyone 18 or older can get the shot, and that people do not even have to wait to roll up their sleeve at most pharmacies.