Influenza activity in Maine and around the United States is widespread. The vast majority of circulating influenza in Maine and nationwide is influenza A/H3. Influenza A/H3 seasons tend to be more severe and to affect mature adults and children. As of January 13, Maine had influenza cases reported from all sixteen counties and outbreaks reported from fifteen counties. The majority of outbreaks are occurring in long-term care facilities. Nationally, there are increased hospitalizations due to influenza, especially in adults over 65. Twenty-six pediatric deaths have been reported nationally, Maine has not had a pediatric death reported this season.
US CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older. While there are many different flu viruses, the seasonal flu vaccine is designed to protect against the top three or four flu viruses that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season. Medical providers should be vaccinated and begin vaccinating patients soon after flu vaccine becomes available to ensure that as many people as possible are protected before flu season begins.
Vaccination is the single best way to prevent influenza and it may have some cross protection even against the drifted influenza H3 viruses.
Starting this season, US CDC recommends use of the nasal spray vaccine in healthy children ages 2 to 8 when it is immediately available and if the child has no contraindications or precautions to that vaccine. Recent studies suggest that the nasal spray flu vaccine may work better than the flu shot in younger children. However, if the nasal spray vaccine is not immediately available and the flu shot is, children age 2 to 8 years should get the flu shot. Don't delay vaccination to find the nasal spray flu vaccine.
Vaccine is already available in some locations. It takes about two weeks after vaccination to develop full immunity.
Where can I get a flu shot?
The Maine CDC suggests people find vaccine through possible avenues: call your health care provider; call 211; or check http://www.maineflu.gov for a list of public clinics.
Some area pharmacies are offering flu vaccination. If interested please call them directly for availability, time and location.
Healthy Community Coalition (HCC) is offering vaccines to individuals ages 18 and older at worksites, community locations, and at the HCC office, one-fourth mile west of Franklin Memorial Hospital on Route 2.
Most insurance companies cover the cost of receiving the shot and HCC is able to bill several insurances. For individuals not covered by insurance there is a suggested donation of $20 or whatever you can afford.
For more information or to schedule a vaccination time for yourself or organization, contact the Healthy Community Coalition at 779-2750. Walk-ins are welcome at HCC, but please call ahead to ensure that a nurse will be available.
Everyday Prevention Tips
Stay home if you are sick, until you are fever-free for a full 24 hours without taking fever-reducing medicine.
- Cough and sneeze into your elbow, or into a tissue. Throw this tissue away.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, but especially after coughing and sneezing. Alcohol-based hand gels can also be used.
- Avoid touching your nose, mouth, and eyes. Germs can be spread by touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Avoid contact with sick people. If you are at very high risk for complication, you may want to avoid large crowds.
- Contact your health care provider if there are flu-like symptoms in a household where anyone is younger than 2 years old, 65 years or older, pregnant, and/or has an underlying medical condition. There are prescription medicines (antivirals such as Tamiflu®) that may help.
Federal CDC recommends that all hospitalized and high risk patients with suspected influenza should be treated as soon as possible with one of three available influenza antiviral medications, without waiting for confirmatory influenza testing.
Although most people can stay home without seeing a health care provider, anyone with the flu should seek medical attention for: dehydration; trouble breathing; getting better, then suddenly getting a lot worse; and any major change in one’s condition.
Related ResourcesGreater Franklin County Flu Hotline
Maine Public Call-in Number
Monday - Friday
9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention