Maine CDC Press Release

December 6, 2010

National Influenza Vaccination Week: December 6-10, 2010

This week marks the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Influenza Vaccination Week, and the Maine Center for Disease Control (Maine CDC) urges all Mainers to get vaccinated. The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that can cause mild to severe illness. Getting sick with the flu can result in missed days of school or work. The flu can also cause severe illness and life-threatening complications in many people. "Influenza is circulating nationally and has already arrived in Maine," said Dr. Stephen Sears, State Epidemiologist with Maine CDC. "The best way to prevent influenza is to get vaccinated."

Federal CDC recommends immunizing all persons older than 6 months, even if they got a seasonal or 2009 H1N1 vaccine last season. This year the H1N1 vaccine is included in the seasonal vaccine. "Vaccination of high risk persons is especially important to reduce their risk of severe illness,” said Sears. Those at high-risk include: young children; older adults; pregnant women; and persons of any age who have certain chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, chronic lung disease and heart disease. "Vaccination is important for health care workers and other people who live with or care for high-risk people to keep from spreading influenza to the people under their care," said Sears. "Children younger than 6 months are at high risk of serious complications due to influenza, but are too young to get the flu vaccine. People who care for them should be vaccinated instead." Estimates from a recent federal CDC survey conducted last month nationally and in 20 local areas throughout the country indicate that by approximately November 7, 2010 31% of children (6 months to 17 years) and 34% of adults (18 years and older) nationally had already received a flu vaccine this season. In Cumberland County, 34% of children and 39% of adults are estimated to have already been vaccinated. In addition, results from Cumberland County indicate that more than 60% of children and 34% of adults who have not yet been vaccinated will definitely or probably get a flu vaccine this year.

For those seeking a flu vaccine, one option is to contact your health care provider. Flu vaccines are also being offered at many school-located clinics throughout the state. A number of flu vaccine clinics are held in pharmacies, supermarkets and other businesses. The schedule for some of these can be found at 211 Maine (www.211maine.org) and www.flucliniclocator.org. Over 90% of state-purchased vaccine has already been distributed to healthcare providers around the state, including 80,000 doses for children in school-located clinics statewide. During the past several flu seasons, influenza arrived during the holiday season and peaked in the first few months of the following year. There is still time to get vaccinated.

The Maine CDC also reminds Mainers of the "No Flu 4 You" strategy to prevent the spread of disease including:

  1. wash your hands;
  2. cover your cough;
  3. stay home when you’re sick; and ,
  4. get vaccinated

For more information, please contact:
Stephen Sears, MD, MPH
Maine CDC
(207)287-5183