Maine CDC Press Release

October 10, 2006

Arrange for a Flu Vaccine Now, Says DHHS' Maine CDC

Contacts:
Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH, Director
Maine CDC
Tel: (207) 287-3270
 
John Martins, Director
Employee and Public Communications
Tel: (207) 287-5012


AUGUSTA - The Department of Health and Human Services’ Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention reminds people that now is a good time to arrange for obtaining an influenza vaccine. The Federal CDC has recently announced that more than 100 million doses of flu vaccine is expected to be distributed throughout the country over the next two months. This is the most flu vaccine distributed in the U.S. for a given season.

“We especially recommend those in high-risk groups make their appointments now for flu vaccine,” said Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH, Director of the Maine CDC. Those at high-risk include: children, ages 6 months to six years; anyone age 50 and older; pregnant women; persons of any age with certain chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease; persons living with or caring for people at high-risk; and health care workers.

“The main changes in the recommendations this year are the addition of children 23 to 59 months and those 50 to 64 years old,” explained Dr. Mills. “There is increasing evidence of the impact of influenza on children and their role in transmitting flu in communities.”
The Maine CDC has ordered 145,000 doses of the vaccine and is currently distributing its first batches. “This year, our vaccine order is primarily for children and high-risk adults in public health and high-risk settings, such as nursing homes and homeless clinics,” said Dr. Mills. “Our flu vaccine rates are low for children; in 2004 less than one-third of Maine children ages 6-23 months had received a flu shot and only 16 percent had the recommended two flu shots. That’s why 56,000 doses of our order are for children this year - a considerable increase over previous years.”

For those seeking a flu shot, the first step should be to call one’s health care provider. Additionally, a number of home health care agencies and hospitals are providing flu vaccine clinics that are often advertised in local newspapers. Finally, a number of flu vaccine clinics are held in supermarkets and other businesses. The schedule for some of these can be found at www.findaflushot.com or www.flucliniclocater.

The Maine CDC also reminds people of the three basic hygiene steps to prevent the spread of disease: covering sneezes and coughs with our sleeve or a tissue; frequent hand-washing and staying home when ill.

“Getting a flu shot and following these simple hygiene steps will go a long way toward helping ourselves and our loved ones stay healthy this winter,” Mills said.

For more information, visit www.maineflu.go