Local Bakersfield hospitals told 23 ABC News they're seeing between two to four times their normal number of patients with respiratory problems in the last week.
Dr. Paul Miller, from Dignity Health Medical, said, "This seems like a pretty severe flu season. And one of the main reasons is, you know, because it may be earlier than we've seen the flu."
A Dignity Health spokeswoman said their hospital normally sees about 100 adults and 100 children a day for flu-like symptoms. But the first week of the year, those numbers are closers to 200 adults and 150-175 children a day.
"The majority of people that just have the body aches, have some fever, have some coughs, yes, they should avoid the emergency room," said Dr. Miller.
To cut down on being over loaded Dr. Miller said if you have problems breathing or you're in an at risk group (under 5, over 65, pregnant or have a chronic illness) you need to go to the hospital. But that's not the case for everyone.
Meanwhile an Adventist Health spokeswoman said they had 99 flu cases in December 2017, compared to 21 in December 2016.
Before going to the hospital, Adventist Health physician, Dr. Stephen Strategos said, call ahead so the hospital or your general practitioner can either give you advice on how to treat yourself over the phone or help you protect yourself and others.
"If you need to see them because of their illness and how their clinical situation, you put a mask on them. You bring them through a different door. You separate them immediately if possible," said Dr. Strategos.
Although the flu season is underway, both doctors told me it's not too late to get the flu shot.
"It really does remains the best method of protection," said Dr. Strategos.
Both Dr. Miller and Dr. Strategos said the best ways to stay healthy this season is pay attention to who you're around, wash your hands and, especially with our bad air conditions, if you're in an at risk group wear a mask.