SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The flu season is hitting California hard.

Health officials say 27 people younger than 65 have died since October, compared to three at this time last year. Meanwhile, emergency rooms are filling up, while pharmacies are running out of medicine to treat it. A Sacramento pediatrician says everyone must take this seriously, but when should people who feel sick go to the hospital?

“I almost died the other night from the flu,” said Richard Vasquez.

The deadly flu epidemic is sweeping across California, packing a stronger punch than normal. Doctor David McCrimon says he’s seen a spike in flu cases in his pediatric patients this season.

“Each individual child or each individual adult who does have the overwhelming effects of the flu, yes that would be extremely concerning to me.”

Vasquez says, “One baby got sick, then the other baby got sick, I got sick. It’s just bad right now. He and his family have been in and out of the emergency room for the last month.

Better safe than sorry,” said Vasquez.

Emergency rooms have been overwhelmed, but Dr. McCrimon says many flu patients don’t need to be there.

“If it’s something that can wait until the morning, then it should be something that is seen in the office setting versus the emergency room.”

So, when should people go the hospital if they suspect they or a loved one is sick with the flu? For children, Dr. McCrimon says it’s when certain symptoms like consistent vomiting, a fever of more than 102 degrees, lack of appetite. and lethargy- lasts for more than a day and a half. Adults can wait at least two days, but if they have a chronic illness like diabetes or arthritis coupled with flu symptoms, they should go in right away.

“I didn’t really believe it until I got sick the other day,” said Vasquez.

A flu season taking the state by storm and showing no signs of slowing of down.

“I’m just hoping I’m not next,” said Chris Lucas.

Pharmacies across the state are reportedly running out of flu medication like Tamiflu. Pucci’s Pharmacy in Midtown, Sacramento says Tamiflu is on short supply, but it does still have some in stock.

The Sacramento County Health Department says it is working with local hospitals to see how much Tamiflu they have on hand as well and have not received any reports of anyone running out.

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