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Maryland Confirms 1st Case Of Flu This Season

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- It's only October, and Marylanders are fighting the flu. The State Department of Health is dealing with its first case of the season.

A single flu shot could save you weeks of misery, or even a trip to the hospital.

"High fever, body aches, chills," said Peter Andrews, Sinai Hospital.

That's the message that Maryland health officials are sending, after Maryland's first confirmed case of the flu this season.

"This is seasonal influenza, so it's right in line with the kind of virus we try to guard against this time of year," said Christopher Garrett, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

According to the CDC, the flu is to blame for more than 31 million doctor visits and 200,000 hospitalizations nationwide every year. Sixty percent of those hospitalizations are from people ages 18 to 64.

At Sinai Hospital, more than 1,000 employees have been vaccinated in the last week -- protected from the onslaught of flu cases after the new year.

"Usually in the state of Maryland, influenza A hits mid-January through the end of February, and then influenza B starts to roll in about mid-February through March," Andrews said.

Although the peak of flu season is months away, it can take up to three weeks for the shots to fully kick in.

With one case in Maryland and more on the way, state officials say even if you're healthy, now is the time to protect your family and those who can't protect themselves.

"We urge those people to get the flu shot anyway in case they're going to be around people with compromised immune systems," said Garrett.

New this year: flu mist is not available after the CDC deemed it wasn't effective. The shot is now your only option.

The State Department of Health is hoping families will take advantage of the long Columbus Day weekend to get their flu shots.

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