SANTA CLARA (KPIX 5) -- The flu is here and it's deadly. Doctors are calling this a particularly bad flu season and hospitals aren't taking any chances.
Hospitals in the South Bay are limiting visitors as they deal with a winter outbreak of flu.
Santa Clara County is reporting four flu-related deaths. The virus has been tearing through the Bay Area and California.
Staff and volunteers at Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose are taking extra precautions to avoid getting the flu.
After a spike in cases beginning around the holidays, the hospital also began a temporary restriction of visitors under the age of 16.
Allison Everman at Good Samaritan Hospital said, "Kids are more at risk for getting respiratory illness. And then quite frankly, they don't always cover their coughs and their sneezes and that allows the germs to spread more easily. So it's to protect staff, other patients and the children."
Santa Clara County Assistant Health Officer Dr. George Han says this year's strain is likely to make more people sick.
Dr. Han said, "It came a little bit earlier than last year's and it looks like it's more severe than last year's as well. What we know is that it tends to produce more severe illness and more hospitalizations. It just seems that when there is an H-3 year, more people tend to get the flu."
Dr. Han recommends people get flu shots as soon as possible.
Although reports from Australia say the vaccine was only about ten percent effective in that country, it could do better here.
"That is Australia," Dr. Han said. "In the United States, we actually have a much higher rate of vaccinations. And that can create what we call herd immunity. And with herd immunity, the vaccine tends to be more effective."
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