Flu season has officially started in Portland.

According to a release today from Multnomah County health officials, doctors and hospitals in the metro area are reporting increases in influenza tests and flu-related hospitalizations.

"Based on trends in lab test results, emergency department visits and individual reports of severe illness," today's statement reads, "the season has begun in earnest."

Officials say the flu season will likely last three to four months, and getting vaccinated now is a good idea.

Last year, Oregon experienced a particularly nasty flu season. In total, 1,562 people were hospitalized.

Dr. Paul Lewis, the tri-county public health officer, says vaccinations are especially crucial for children, elderly and those who are pregnant or ill already.

"Flu takes several weeks to hit a peak and then a couple of months to be over, so now is a great time to get your flu shot," Lewis says. "The flu shot could save your life. It could save the life of someone in your family, and it could keep you from having a miserable week recovering in bed."