January 19, 2005
Influenza Vaccine Restrictions Lifted
The Department of Health and Human Services lifted all restrictions Wednesday on the use of influenza vaccine this winter.
Since October the Department’s Bureau of Health has made extensive efforts to assure that vaccine would be available to immunize individuals at highest risk of complications from influenza, particularly young children and the elderly. Today’s decision means remaining vaccine can be used for any person who wishes to reduce the likelihood of influenza. The decision was based on declining demand for vaccine from at-risk individuals and to use remaining vaccine. As of Jan. 17, 16 other states, including New Hampshire and Massachusetts, had lifted all restrictions on influenza vaccination.
Influenza A has been documented in Maine since late November. Numerous cases have been confirmed from throughout different regions of the state. However, it is not too late to get immunized. Immunization can provide protection as long as influenza is present in the state. Influenza typically occurs in Maine through March.
Vaccinations will be available through private providers and public clinics. Public clinics providing vaccine will be held in the following sites during the week of January 24-28: Augusta, Bangor, Caribou, Ellsworth, Houlton, Lewiston, Portland, and Rockland. More detailed site information on those public clinics can be obtained by calling 1-888-257-0990, beginning January 21 or on the Internet at www.mainepublichealth.com
Individuals wishing to attend public clinics can make an appointment by calling 1-888-257-0990, beginning January 21.
Following the October 5th announcement that the Chiron company, one of the only two flu vaccine suppliers, was going to be unable to fill vaccine orders for the State, the Department of Health and Human Services had recommended vaccinating a limited group of persons deemed to be at highest risk of complications from influenza in order to prioritize vaccine to those most in need.