SAN ANTONIO -

For the first time in its history, University Hospital is making the flu vaccine mandatory for all staff to help prevent the spread of the illness.

"Our flu vaccine rate for University Health System employees is 98.5 percent," said Dr. Jason Bowling, an infectious diseases physician at University.

The San Antonio Metropolitan Health District reports that there are twice as many flu cases this season, compared to this time last flu season.

"We had 55 cases last week, which is higher than the week before," said Bowling, "but not beyond what we've seen in the past."

Texas is one of 43 states seeing widespread flu cases. Metro Health reports that three children have died from the flu this season.

Getting your flu shot is the No. 1 way to help avoid the illness. If you haven't done so already, there is still time.

Bowling says it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to work it's war through the body.

"The flu season will likely last through March, so its not too late to get the vaccine," Bowling said.

University says it is not currently limiting the number of visitors at the hospital to try to keep the flu from spreading, but if the number of cases significantly increases that would be a possibility.

Metro Health expects to see another peak in flu cases in February and the cases it has already seen have been more severe than in the past.

In addition to getting the vaccine, simply washing your hands can help keep you healthy.