Maine CDC Press Release

December 18, 2012

Flu Vaccine Remains Available As Disease Continues To Rise

AUGUSTA – The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention urges those who have not yet been vaccinated against influenza to receive a flu shot this season. There is plenty of vaccine readily available, according to Dr. Sheila Pinette, Director of the Maine CDC and influenza cases are on the rise in Maine.

Last week, a school-aged child from Central Maine died from influenza A, Pinette said, marking the first pediatric death of the flu season in Maine. Pediatric death due to flu is required to be reported to public health officials and is rare, Pinette said.

"Flu is often seen as a disease that takes the life of the elderly and frail, but children are also vulnerable.

The U.S. CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine as the first and best way to protect against influenza. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine annually, even if they were vaccinated last year.

Every year, up to 20 percent of U.S. residents will get the flu. On average, more than 200,000 will be hospitalized for influenza-related complications. People at high risk for developing flu-related complications include: children younger than 5; adults 65 of age and older; pregnant women; American Indians; Alaskan natives; people who have underlying medical conditions (including asthma, heart disease, and weakened immune systems); and those who are morbidly obese.

Once vaccinated, it takes about two weeks for immune protection to begin, Pinette said.

Signs of influenza include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue. "Anyone with these symptoms should follow the No Flu 4 You guidelines” Dr. Pinette said. “This includes hand washing, good respiratory etiquette including covering your cough, staying home while ill and getting vaccinated."

For questions regarding the vaccine please contact the Maine Immunization Program at 207-287-3746 or 1-800-867-4775 or by e-mail at immuneme@maine.gov.

For questions regarding the disease, or to report cases or an outbreak contact the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Program at 1-800-821-5821 or by e-mail at disease.reporting@maine.gov.