By Mike Hellgren

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Flu cases are on the rise across Maryland, and for some that can be deadly.

Mike Hellgren has the new push to get you vaccinated.

Flu survives best in cold weather, and as the number of cases grows, so does the risks to those most vulnerable.

For people, including the very young, the very old and the very pregnant, the flu is not just unpleasant.  It can kill with a higher chance of serious complications like pneumonia.

WJZ found the number of elderly Americans hospitalized last year because of the flu was the highest ever recorded, and that has many concerned about what’s coming this year.

“People need to take it seriously depending on their age and their own general health,” said Elissa Winer, Baltimore.

Maryland is one of 13 states that are now reporting local flu cases.

“What we are seeing is a ramping up of individuals who are presenting with flu-like symptoms,” Dr. Oxiris Barbot, Baltimore City health commissioner.

Since the flu peaks when it’s dry and cold, scientists are now using a model based on humidity and how many times people search Google for information about the flu.

Last year, it predicted the peak flu season in New York City–almost two months before it hit.

“I want to be as healthy as I can be.  At my age, that’s important,” one woman said.

It takes about two weeks for the vaccination to take hold, and after that, you’re protected for six to eight months.

But not everyone is getting vaccinated, including senior citizen Connie Pendleton.

“I do not take the flu shot.  When I take the flu shot, I get very sick from it,” Pendleton said.

“You know, that’s one of the biggest myths that there is.  The flu vaccine doesn’t cause the flu,” Barbot said. “Unfortunately, roughly 36,000 a year die from a very preventable illness.”

Maryland reported its first flu case on Oct. 3. That’s more than two weeks earlier than last year.

For more information from the CDC about flu season, click here. The CDC also has a flu app (click here).

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