If you have the flu, now is not the time to visit patients at Virginia Mason Memorial hospital.

Starting Saturday (Dec. 14), the hospital will restrict children 12 or younger -- and anyone with the flu or exhibiting flu-like symptoms (such as fever or coughs) -- from visiting patients. The restrictions come as flu rates are running high around the Yakima Valley.

"We are taking this precaution to protect patients, our employees and our community," the hospital explained in a Friday news release. "Children, seniors and those whose health is already compromised, are particularly vulnerable to becoming ill."

And all other visitors are being asked to take the following precautions:

  • Don't spread germs -- use lots of hand sanitizer and wear a mask. The hospital is providing both at all entrances.
  • Don't overstay your welcome. Keep your visit as brief as possible.
  • And of course, keep your hands clean. Wash them thoroughly with soap and water, and use hand sanitizer often.

"This restriction will be in place until further notice," the news release said. "We are working with the Yakima Health District daily to monitor cases. We appreciate your patience and understanding during this time."

Meantime, if you want to more information about the flu, check the Washington State Department of Health's website.