BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The flu season is upon us, and health experts are urging people to get vaccinated before they get sick.

Flu season typically runs October through May, and even though it’s early in the season, the Maryland Department of Health has already confirmed several cases here in Baltimore.

Health officials say the time to get your flu shot is now.

“There are certain groups at higher risk. People who have underlying conditions, the very young, the very old, pregnant women,” said Lisa Maragakis, senior director for infection prevention at Johns Hopkins Health System.

Maragakis says getting the flu vaccine is the best form of protection.

Baltimore already has three confirmed cases of the flu, a highly contagious disease that could lead to death for those groups at a higher risk.

Common symptoms include: body aches, fever, and a sore throat. These symptoms typically begin within four days of the person being exposed to the virus.

Experts also recommend people who work within the health care system to also get vaccinated.

“Want to make sure our employees are vaccinated, so it would deter the spread of flu this year,” said Deborah Dooley, Johns Hopkins clinical manager. “Protects them, protects their families, especially people with small children.”

Every year, Johns Hopkins Medicine vaccinates more than 36,000 employees.

“Anyone who is in the vicinity of our patients, works in the hospital, needs to be vaccinated, and we do that for patient safety reasons,” Maragakis said.

A safety measure that health experts suggest for anyone who may come in contact with the more vulnerable population.

The best form of defense is washing your hands to prevent spreading germs, and of course, to stay home from work or school and get treatment if you get the flu.

Health experts recommend contacting your physician or local pharmacy for a flu vaccine.

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