MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s the time of year when health officials recommend getting your flu shot.

Children’s Hospitals and Clinics has already started to see a few influenza cases.

They recommend getting vaccinated now, as a surge of flu cases is expected around Thanksgiving.

“I’m doing it for my sister,” said 15-year-old Jose Lezama-Alvarado. “She was born with a disability, so I’m just trying to keep her safe in the house.”

For Jose, this has become a yearly thing. Getting a flu shot so he and his family can keep the flu at bay.

“I do recommend other kids do it,” said Jose. “Just keep it safe. Be safe.”

Last year, Children’s treated more than a thousand kids with influenza. Two hundred of them were admitted.

And of the 200 kids admitted into ICU, 90 percent of them had not gotten a flu vaccine.

“Flu is a virus that we know is going to come,” said Patsy Stinchfield.

Stinchfield is the Director of Infection Prevention at Children’s.

She said the threat of Ebola has more people asking to get vaccinated for other viruses, including influenza.

But for children between the ages of 2 and 8, it no longer has to be a shot in the arm.

In fact, the CDC now says the intranasal mist is actually better and more effective.

“Their immune system recognizes it better,” Stinchfield said. “They have higher levels of protection. And so that’s our preferred if they are able to have it.”

Stinchfield said that since Ebola isn’t in the Twin Cities and there’s no vaccine for the virus, the best plan for families is to take action on other viruses while they can.

“If you feel afraid of an infectious disease like Ebola, there is something you can do,” she said. “Go ahead and vaccinate your children on time–the usual childhood vaccines. Get your whole family their flu vaccines and take what protections you can.”

Stinchfield said the average time in the hospital for children being treated for influenza is about a week.

John Lauritsen