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That spike is comparable to the amount seen during the entirety of last year's flu season, and local hospitals have felt the strain.

The season could be as severe as the one in 2014-15, officials say, which was the most severe flu season in years.

It's relevant to note that these are just the reported numbers - they could be much higher, as not everyone seeks medical attention when they have the flu.

While no vaccine is a 100-percent guarantee the receiver will not get sick, health departments are recommending the shot anyway because it should lessen the severity of the symptoms no matter what strain you get, he added.

"Yes", she said. "We're seeing a significant increase in patients and outpatients with flu-related illnesses".

"Everybody should get their flu vaccination and try to avoid contact with people who may be sick", Manrique said.

Specifically, cases of H3N2, a strain of influenza A, are high. H3N2-predominant flu seasons have been associated with more severe illness, especially among children and adults age 65 and older.

It's not clear yet how effective this year's flu vaccine will be, as federal data on that won't be available till February. Vaccine effectiveness against other circulating flu viruses has been about 60 percent for H1N1 viruses, and around 50 percent for influenza B viruses. It is impossible to predict how bad a flu season will be.

Statewide, flu is widespread and at levels nearing peak season, the California Department of Public Health said Tuesday. OH does not have a flu shot shortage.

Use a tissue to cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing; avoid using your hands, but if you do, immediately wash or use antibacterial cleanser to help prevent germs from spreading.

Individuals with flu symptoms, particularly those with risk factors such as pregnancy, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, kidney disease, and children age five and younger, should talk to their health care providers about antiviral medication.

Birmingham area hospitals are at or over normal patient capacity due in large part to the number of patients presenting with seasonal influenza-like symptoms, according to the Jefferson County Department of Health. "However, if the next person that walks in is sicker than you, they will go first".