BALTIMORE (WJZ)—The flu is beginning to be a real concern in Maryland.

Derek Valcourt has more on what doctors are seeing as the cases increase.

Many of the cases so far are the H1N1 strain of flu– that’s the kind that in the past has hit children and young adults especially hard.

As a mother and medical professional, Aisha Umar isn’t taking any chances.

A flu shot is her first line of defense for the perils than come with influenza virus.

“You can’t come to work. You’re out of work for at least a couple of days. And that’s not good,” said Umar, medical technician. “Fevers, the chills, body aches, headaches.”

Maryland state health officials report flu-like illnesses brought 836 people to local hospitals and clinics in the last week of December.

In fact, flu cases are on the rise nationally as we settle in with winter weather.

“Well, we’re all indoors. We’re indoors. We’re sharing space,” said Shawn Mueller, Union Memorial infection control.

Health experts at Union Memorial are echoing concerns about what’s still to come this flu season and recommending a flu shot as the best bet to claim victory over the virus.

“The main thing about the vaccine is that it’ll keep you from getting hospitalized. You may still get influenza, but it won’t be nearly as severe if you get the vaccination,” Mueller said.

Each flu shot covers three strains of the flu, including the H1N1 virus, which has been predominant this year.

Quick and relatively painless, the shots do not contain any live virus. And, no, they cannot make you sick.

And since the virus can survive for a while outside of the body, it may be lurking on surfaces, which is why health experts also stress frequent hand washing, sanitizer use and recommend you avoid touching your face with your hands.

Umar hopes her flu shot keeps her healthy.

“I’m praying,” she said with a laugh.

So far this flu season, more than 150 people have been hospitalized in Maryland because of the influenza virus.

Nearby states like Virginia and Pennsylvania have already experienced a sharp spike in flu cases.

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