Maine CDC Press Release

December 11, 2003

State Updates Flu Vaccine Efforts

Contacts: Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH Kathleen Gensheimer, MD, MPH
  Director State Epidemiologist
  Bureau of Health Bureau of Health
  Tel:  (207) 287-3270 Tel: (207) 287-5183
  TTY: (207) 287-8066 TTY: (207) 287-8066

The Maine Department of Human Services today provided a further update on the influenza situation in Maine. Although earlier this week, no widespread flu vaccine shortages had been reported, subsequent communications with health care providers indicate that demand has recently increased and in many places is exceeding supply.

“Our Immunization Program often has been able to identify vaccines for health care providers to use for their highest-risk populations,” noted Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH, Director of DHS’ Bureau of Health. “This situation is changing on a daily basis and our staff continues to work hard to address the challenge. We are expecting some limited additional vaccine for distribution in the next several weeks.”

Significantly, late last night the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its recommendations for persons who should receive the flu vaccine, with a higher emphasis on young children 6 to 23 months. The CDC now recommends that healthy children ages 6 to 23 months, adults 65 and older, pregnant women beyond the first trimester, persons 2 and over with underlying chronic conditions receive the flu vaccine.

“The next priority for vaccination,” Dr. Mills said, “are health care workers and household contacts who work with or live with highest-risk populations.” She added that healthy persons aged 5 to 49 years who desire vaccine should be encouraged to use an intranasal vaccine when available.

Dr. Mills also noted that there continues to be sporadic influenza disease activity across Maine, with increasing numbers of reports from health care providers this week. “We will continue to work hard with health care providers to identify vaccine for their highest-risk populations,” she said. “And we are encouraging everyone to heed respiratory etiquette by covering their coughs, cleaning their hands, and staying home if they are ill.”

Persons interested in receiving a flu shot should contact their health care provider. More information is also available at the Maine Immunization Program website http://www.mainepublichealth.gov.