Maine CDC Press Release
December 3, 2009
H1N1 Declines Slightly as Vaccine Supply Slowly Increases; Maine CDC Partners with 211 Maine
AUGUSTA - H1N1 continues to be widespread in Maine, though there is evidence that it may be declining.
Tragically, four people in Maine died of the disease this past week, bringing the total to 11 since July. All deaths have been among adults with serious underlying medical conditions. However, hospitalizations, school absenteeism, and outpatient visits have all declined this past week.
There were 25 hospitalizations due to H1N1 last week in Maine, all adults and most with underlying medical conditions.
"The people in Maine who have died from H1N1 are similar to the adults who have died nationally. They are primarily people with serious health conditions other than H1N1, like severe asthma, emphysema, heart disease, diabetes, or immune suppression," said Dr. Dora Anne Mills, Director of the Maine CDC. "Since H1N1 continues to be widespread, it is important that people with underlying conditions take precautions, seek vaccine, and ask for antiviral prescription medicines if they become ill."
A little more than 300,000 doses of vaccine have arrived in the state, Mills said. While this is less than half of what is needed to vaccinate people in the priority groups, it should be easier for people in these groups to find vaccine.
"During the past two weeks, Maine CDC has distributed about 100,000 doses to 329 health care providers, which is 100 more health care providers than who previously had vaccine," Mills said.
Maine's school vaccination program has been highly successful. Virtually every public school and many private K-12 schools have completed vaccination clinics for students, Mills said. Early estimates show that at least 50 percent of Maine’s school-aged children have been vaccinated.
"Maine is the first state in the nation to have accomplished this and everyone should be very proud since this herculean effort was due to the work and dedication of many. To borrow a phrase, it takes a village to vaccinate."
Maine CDC noted that even with some slight declines in H1N1 influenza activity, there is still a lot of H1N1 influenza everywhere and the virus is expected to circulate for months to come, with possible other surges in the disease possible.
"It is still important for people to get vaccinated, especially those in the priority groups – pregnant women, children and young adults, adults younger than 65 with underlying conditions, household contacts and caregivers of young infants under 6 months old. We hope to expand the priority list to all health care workers soon,” said Dr. Mills. “People seeking vaccine should check with their health care provider as well as the flu clinic locator at www.maineflu.gov. We expect the number of public clinics to increase in the coming days and weeks."
Also on Thursday, Maine CDC announced their new partnership with 211 Maine to continue to provide public information via telephone and the web. The partnership will allow for extended hours of phone support, Mills said.
"We know that for months to come it will also be important for people to be able to obtain good information about H1N1. Maine CDC staff have been providing a toll-free public information line for over seven months, often answering 200 calls a day."
"With Maine CDC's guidance, the trained staff at 211 Maine will be providing free flu-related confidential information and referrals from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. 211 will also keep up-to-date information on flue vaccine clinics."
"We know that any type of influenza can cause serious illness, so it is important that we all redouble our prevention efforts to limit the spread of this illness and to prepare for continued presence of H1N1," said Dr. Mills. "By making the 211 Maine telephone line available, we hope to help Maine people stay informed and healthy."
As of 12/4
As of 12/4
2 doses for every 5 people in high priority groups; 2 does for every 9 people in Maine. As of November 16, 76 percent of the vaccine has been reported to be administered.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH