GREAT FALLS- One child in California is dead after getting sick with the flu.

Now, doctors are urging people to get vaccinated before the virus comes back in full swing.

This year's flu not only came a little early, but people across Montana need to prepare for a flu season much worse than what we saw last year

“Since the CDC is predicting for the United States to have a worse flu season, we would kind of expect the same thing in Great Falls,” explains April Woods-Tatarka, Manager of Quality and Patient Safety at Benefis.

Last year 13,576 people in Montana were diagnosed with the flu, 38 of which died from it.

“The flu virus is always evolving and changing, and it's really smart. So just when we think we have a good coverage of it, it will evolve and then become stronger,” further explains Woods-Tatarka.

This makes things a little more difficult when it comes to developing the best vaccine to keep you safe.

A simple way to put it is… it’s vaccine roulette.

“Sometimes it's a guessing game. Sometimes we do really well with it, sometimes we don't.  It's not a perfect system by any means because it's a smart virus,” says Woods-Tatarka.

When a flu vaccine is made, health officials watch other countries where flu season has already wrapped up, such as Australia.

They also consider the type of flu we saw last year.

While the vaccine may not be perfect, it could save you a trip to the hospital.

“The flu vaccine may not necessarily prevent you from getting the flu, but what it will help you definitely with is being so sick that you have to be hospitalized, put on a ventilator, that kind of thing,” explains Woods-Tatarka.

If you do happen to start feeling little under the weather, there's a pretty easy way to see if it's the flu.

“Flu is usually hallmarked where, ‘I’m fine one minute, and then suddenly I don't feel good,’”

explains Woods-Tatarka.

Most of your symptoms will be upper respiratory, meaning you'll have a cough, runny nose, fever, chill, and just feel sick overall.

One of the best ways to protect yourself from the flu is the vaccine.

If you do get the flu, make sure to stay home so you don't spread it.

However, if you have to go out, make sure you're wearing a mask.

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