- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 29, 2009

GLEN BURNIE, Md. | Gov. Martin O’Malley had never gotten a flu shot — until Monday.

In a bid to encourage Marylanders to do the same, the Democratic governor stripped down to his undershirt — eliciting some admiring hoots from onlookers — and allowed a nurse to inject the seasonal flu vaccine into his left shoulder.

Mr. O’Malley said it was important for Marylanders — even those, like him, who haven’t worried about getting the flu in the past — to protect themselves against seasonal flu because hospitals could be overwhelmed with swine flu patients.

“It will help protect our public health infrastructure — our hospitals, our doctors’ waiting rooms and the like — from some of the surge that we know is inevitable,” Mr. O’Malley said.

The state health department announced Monday that state labs have already confirmed the presence of a seasonal flu strain. The virus was detected a few weeks earlier than is usual, officials said.

Based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health officials estimate that 1,000 Marylanders die every year from seasonal flu or its complications.

Eight Marylanders have died of swine flu, including the state’s first pediatric case, a child with underlying health problems whose death was announced Friday.

Frances Phillips, Maryland’s deputy health secretary, said she hoped to find out from the federal government this week when the state would get its first doses of the swine flu vaccine.

There should be “a substantial amount of vaccine in the state” by the end of October, she said.

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