Maine CDC Press Release

October 7, 2009

Those at Highest Risk for H1N1 Targeted with Initial Vaccine Delivery

AUGUSTA -

35,000 Doses Expected in Maine by Next Week

Approximately 35,000 doses of the H1N1 vaccine will be in Maine next week, according to Dr. Dora Anne Mills, Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (MeCDC). And while that number seems large, Mills said those in the highest priority groups for getting the vaccine number 700,000.

"Our goal remains the same – to vaccinate as many people as possible who are at the highest risk," said Mills. "We anticipate that there will eventually be enough vaccine for everyone. But for now, we need to focus our early efforts on pregnant women, infants, children, young adults, and some health care workers."

Vaccine began arriving this week, with 14,800 doses of H1N1 nasal spray being delivered. MeCDC staff is working to order about 20,000 additional doses, which will include both the nasal spray and injectable vaccine. The nasal spray is limited in its use, and is being primarily distributed to health care providers who see children for their young healthy toddlers and siblings of young infants. Mills said that along with pregnant women, priority groups for the vaccine these first few weeks include: people who live with or care for infants six months and younger; children and young adults, age 6 to 25; persons age 25 to 65 who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk for influenza-related complications; and health care and emergency medical services personnel, especially those who work in hospital maternity, pediatric, and intensive care units as well as emergency departments.

"Maine CDC/DHHS issued emergency rules that mirror rules adopted for seasonal influenza. The rules require licensed healthcare facilities to offer H1N1 vaccine to their employees," Mills said. "There is no mandate for employees to receive the vaccine, nor any other laws in the state that mandate H1N1 vaccination. Employees must be offered the vaccine and I would highly recommend that they get vaccinated."

According to early estimates, Maine is expected to receive 340,000 doses of vaccine in the next eight weeks, which falls short of the amount needed for the priority groups. This may lead to further prioritization, Mills said.

"The first few weeks of vaccine distribution will be rocky and unpredictable," Mills said. "Vaccinations will require coordination among our staff, health care providers and many other stakeholders. What we are hearing about vaccine delivery may change quickly, so we need to stay informed and be flexible."

Mills said that as more vaccine arrives, the focus will be on offering the vaccine in schools, because vaccinating children will have the most immediate impact on protecting the students, their families and the communities where they reside.

"The good news is that the schools have been preparing since June – and they are at the ready," said Mills.

To keep up to date, or for more information, go to www.maineflu.gov. The site is updated several times daily. A toll-free hotline is also being staffed by MeCDC. Those interested may call 1-888-257-0990 during the week if they have questions about H1N1 or the vaccine.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH, Director,
Maine CDC, 287-3270