October 27, 2008
Arrange for a Flu Shot Now
For more information, please contact: Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH Maine CDC 207-287-3270
AUGUSTA - The Department of Health and Human Services’ Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) reminds people that now is a good time to arrange for obtaining an influenza vaccine. The federal CDC has recently announced that more than 140 million doses of flu vaccine are expected to be distributed throughout the country during the next few months. This is the most influenza vaccine ever distributed in the U.S. for a single season.
“What is new this year is the recommendation that all children ages 6 months to 18 years of age get an annual flu shot,” said Dr. Dora Anne Mills, Director of the Maine CDC. “This recommendation is the result of increasing evidence of the impact of influenza on children and their role in transmitting flu in communities.”
“We especially recommend all Mainers in high-risk groups make their appointments now for flu vaccine,” added Dr. Mills. Those at high-risk include: children ages 6 months to 18 years old; anyone age 50 and older; pregnant women; persons of any age with certain chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease; persons living with or caring for people at high-risk; residents of nursing homes; and health care workers.
The Maine CDC has ordered about 164,000 doses of the vaccine, including over 61,000 preservative-free vaccines for children. The agency has received and is distributing most of its supply this week and next. “This year, our vaccine order is primarily for children and adults in public health and high-risk settings, such as nursing homes and homeless clinics,” said Dr. Mills. “This is the first year that the federal CDC has recommended that all children older than 6 months of age receive a flu shot. We would like to protect as many children in Maine as possible.”
For those seeking a flu shot, the first step should be to call one’s health care provider. Additionally, a number of home health care agencies and hospitals are providing flu vaccine clinics that are often advertised in local newspapers. Finally, a number of flu vaccine clinics are held in supermarkets and other businesses. The schedule for some of these can be found at 211 Maine ( http://www.211maine.org ) and http://www.flucliniclocater.org .
The Maine CDC also reminds people of three basic hygiene steps to prevent the spread of disease: covering sneezes and coughs with your sleeve or a tissue; frequent hand-washing, and staying home when ill. Hygiene campaign materials and other information are available at: http://www.maineflu.gov and http://www.mainepublichealth.gov and http://www.cdc.gov/flu .
“Getting a flu shot and following these simple steps will go a long way toward helping everyone stay healthy this winter,” Dr. Mills said.