Maine CDC Press Release
November 19, 2009
As Vaccine Remains Scarce, H1N1 Flu Continues to Expand
AUGUSTA - This past week has been a challenging one in Maine for H1N1, since the disease has surged and vaccine supplies remain very limited.
"We are still experiencing a vaccine shortage, especially because the demand for it is so large,” said Dr. Dora Anne Mills, Director of the Maine CDC. “Maine does not even have enough vaccine for all of our children and pregnant women."
As of Friday November 20, Maine will have 210,500 doses of vaccine. There are about 300,000 children and pregnant women. With a total of approximately 13,000 doses being distributed to the highest risk hospital personnel and some extremely high-risk adults cared for by specialists, the remaining doses cover less than two-thirds of Maine’s children and pregnant women.
"This is a very frustrating situation for all of us, as we thought we would have much more vaccine by now," said Dr. Mills. "We only have 40 percent of the vaccine than the late August estimates given to us showed we would have by now, and two-thirds of what the late September estimates showed.
"Our priority continues to be offering vaccine to children and pregnant women. The good news is that 95 percent of schools are expected to have offered vaccine by the end of this week," said Dr. Mills. "A few more schools are offering vaccine clinics Thanksgiving week and after. It looks like we’ll have close to 100 percent of schools having offered vaccine in a very short time."
H1N1 continued to surge in Maine as it has in the rest of the country. This past week, 25 children and 25 adults were hospitalized in Maine with H1N1. All but two of the adults were under age 65. Nine of the people hospitalized were admitted to intensive care units, including two children.
Flu symptoms also account for one out of six visits to emergency departments, Mills said. Since August, five people in Maine, all adults, have died from H1N1.
A total of 143 schools have reported high absentee rates, including 44 this past week. Two communities closed their schools – Winthrop and Washington Academy in Machias. Six other outbreaks were reported as well, including in a long-term care facility . Some doses 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 Dr. Mills.
"With H1N1 influenza being so widespread and vaccine being in such short supply, it is also important that people know what to do if they become sick or are at high risk for complications," said Dr. Mills. "We are especially concerned that people at high risk for complications know about the availability of prescription antiviral medicines, which can help reduce the duration and severity of illness."
About 41,000 courses of these medicines have been distributed to participating health centers and pharmacies, and can be accessed through one’s health care provider, Mills said.
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:
- Trouble breathing
- Getting better then suddenly getting a lot worse
- Any major change in one’s condition
As of 11/19
|% of Doses
- 231 health care providers statewide have received H1N1 vaccine
- This means there is now 1 dose for every 6 people, and 1 dose for every 3 people in the high priority groups
For more information and for a list of school clinics for the upcoming two weeks, go to www.maineflu.gov.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH, Director
Maine Center for Disease Control (207-287-3270)