(WJBK) - This year's flu season is a brutal one and now more than a dozen hospitals are taking steps to protect patients.
They are putting restrictions on visitors to the facilities,
"One thing that we really can predict about the flu is that it is unpredictable," said Dr. Trini Mathew.
Because of the flu season which has come on earlier and more aggressive than years past Beaumont has decided to ban children under 13 from visiting all eight of their hospitals.
The hospital says because of the high number of patients suffering from respiratory viral illnesses, predominantly the flu.
"One of the concerns we do have is we want to keep our patients safe," said Mathew. "But we want to keep our health workers safe here because we require our health workers to be immunized. We are keeping them safe however with the immunizations, we may have children coming in with other illnesses that we can't say is the flu or not the flu."
About 46 states including Michigan are reporting widespread flu outbreaks. The oldest and the youngest are the most vulnerable.
One of the main problems is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says this year's flu vaccine has only been about 10 percent effective. But Dr. Trini Mathew, who is the medical director of Beaumont’s Epidemiology Department, says it's still your best weapon in fighting the flu.
"Influenza like illnesses happens," she said. "People get confused with saying that's influenza. So many times I hear the comment 'I got the flu shot but I still got the flu.' It may be true but unless we test you for that, most likely you did come down with some other illness."
Beside receiving the vaccine, the best ways to protect yourself and others is to wash your hands often, make sure you cough and sneeze into your arm and stay at home from school or work if you are sick.
"That's the reason why we do want to restrict," Mathew said. "If you are healthy and there is no reason for you to be in the hospital, please stay at home. if you feel ill, the first step is call your provider
The hospital says kids should only visit under extraordinary circumstances - which include the severe illness of a parent or sibling - or end-of-life situations.