Maine CDC Press Release

November 5, 2009

H1N1 Vaccine Efforts Expand as School Absenteeism Grows

AUGUSTA - H1N1 influenza is causing widespread school absentee rates, though no schools have had to close this past week, said Dr. Dora Anne Mills, Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (MeCDC) in her weekly press update Thursday. Twenty-five schools statewide have reported high absentee rates and include schools from York to Aroostook County, from Washington to Oxford County, Mills said.

“The good news is that about 100 schools have held vaccine clinics and more than 200 have scheduled clinics this week and next,’’ said Mills. “We anticipated that H1N1 would continue to spread. It has now been confirmed in every county, with Franklin County having its first confirmed case this week.”

Mills said that 10 people were hospitalized this past week, including four children, one young adult, and five middle-aged adults. All the children were otherwise healthy with no underlying chronic conditions.

Three of the people hospitalized spent time in intensive care units, Mills said and eight of the 10 patients have been discharged from the hospital and are recovering at home.

“Although the vaccine supply is trickling in at a much slower rate than we would like, the H1N1 vaccine efforts in Maine are unprecedented,” said Dr. Mills. “This week, about 40,000 doses arrived, for a cumulative total of 138,600 doses. “This is still about one dose of vaccine for every five who are in one of the high priority groups for vaccine, so it is still very hard to find. However, we estimate that 15,000 school children were vaccinated.”

A significant portion of the state’s stockpile of antiviral medicines has been distributed for those who do not have adequate insurance coverage, who are at risk for complications, who are ill with symptoms of H1N1 or have been exposed to a household member with influenza, Mills said.

Some doses of vaccine have also been distributed to health care providers for pregnant women, pre-school aged children, and some older children and adults with very high risk conditions.

“With nine different formulations of the H1N1 vaccine, distribution has been challenging, since each formulation has different age groups and other parameters of who can receive it. However, with new formulations available this past week, we have been able to expand the groups of people to whom we can distribute vaccine,” said Mills.

With H1N1 influenza being so widespread, it is also important that people know what to do if they become sick or are at high risk for complications. Mills stressed that those who at high risk for complications speak to their healthcare providers about the availability of prescription antiviral medicines. Nearly 41,000 courses have been delivered and can help reduce the duration and severity of illness.

To continue to prevent the spread of H1N1 and minimize its impact, the Maine CDC recommends:

  • Everyone be extra vigilant with respiratory hygiene:
    • Cover your coughs and sneezes;
    • Wash your hands frequently; and
    • Stay home if you’re sick with a fever.
  • If you are at very high risk for complications, you may want to avoid large crowds. There is generally no reason for large gatherings to be cancelled, but people who are at high risk for complications should consider avoiding them.
  • If you or your household member is sick with the symptoms, which are a fever plus a sore throat and/or a cough, there are several things you should be aware of.
    • Know that most people can stay home without a seeing a health care provider;
    • People with influenza should drink fluids and get plenty of rest;
    • Call your health care provider if you are at high risk for complications and you or a household member has symptoms of H1N1. You should be considered for prescription medicines that treat influenza, called antivirals (known as Tamiflu and Relenza).
  • Those at risk for complications include:
    • Children younger than 2 years old
    • Adults 65 years and older
    • Pregnant women
    • Anyone with certain underlying medical conditions
  • Anyone with influenza symptoms should seek medical attention for:

    • Dehydration
    • Trouble breathing
    • Getting better then suddenly getting a lot worse
    • Any major change in one’s condition

For more information and for a list of school clinics for the upcoming two weeks, go to http://www.maineflu.gov .

H1N1 Vaccination Distribution by County as of November 5:

County/Region Doses as of This Week % of Population Doses Represent
Androscoggin 13,800 13%
Penobscot 17,100 12%
Kennebec/Somerset 17,200 10%
Lincoln/Knox/Waldo 11,600 10%
Franklin 2,900 10%
Aroostook 6,600 9%
Cumberland/York/Sagadahoc 57,900 8%
Oxford 4,600 8%
Piscataquis 1,200 7%
Washington 2,300 7%
Hancock 3,400 6%
Statewide 138,600 10%


Towns/Cities where schools are reporting high abseentism

  • Beals
  • Bethel
  • Bridgewater
  • Brunswick
  • Durham
  • Dresden
  • Eddington
  • Gardiner
  • Hampden
  • Hartland
  • Holden
  • Jonesport
  • Lewiston
  • Monmouth
  • Newport
  • Northeast Harbor
  • Old Town
  • Orono
  • Palmyra
  • Readfield
  • St. Francis
  • South Berwick
  • Vassalboro
  • York