HEALTH

Four cases of the flu confirmed in Maryland

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Health officials in Maryland have confirmed four children in the Baltimore area are battling the flu. One of the children was hospitalized.

Last year, the first confirmed case of influenza in the D.C. area was Dec. 30. As it's only October, doctors are putting out another pitch to residents to get vaccinated against the bug.

Charlotte Tsoucalas of Aleandria has fought the flu before and never wants to go through the ordeal again, so she got her shot.

"It's kind of very debilitating in terms of doing your day-to-day activities," Tsoucalas said.

She joined several others at Inova Alexandria Hospital in hopes of avoiding this year's virus.

Eddie Gouge of Alexandria Resident added, "The congestion. The runny nose, soreness, body aches and pains, so this is just an easy way of preventing it."

"We're senior citizens, and anything can happen so precaution, you know," Khin Myat of Lorton added.

Dr. Martin Brown, the chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Inova, says precaution is key.

Brown explained, "Several thousand people a year die of the flu in this country - in this country. And most of those people are people who didn't take it seriously didn't get immunized."

Pregnant women, children, the elderly and people with chronic illnesses are most at risk. But health officials are recommending the vaccine for everyone six months and older.

"In the past years, we've had some very heavy flu years. It's a disease that once you get it, you never want to get it again," Brown continued.

There's no way of predicting how this year's flu season will shape up, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are already tracking the spread. Most of the country has sporadic cases right now. Sixteen states have none.

It takes about two weeks after you get the vaccine for antibodies to develop in your body and provide protection. You must be vaccinated every year since flu viruses are constantly changing.

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