According to the Maine CDC, this winter's flu season is likely to be a bad one for two reasons. First, most of the samples tested throughout Maine and the US are Influenza A (H3N2), and the rates of hospitalizations and deaths are higher in seasons when H3N2 is dominant. Second, half of the H3N2 samples tested are poorly matched with the vaccine that was prepared for this year's season. That's because the virus has "drifted," or mutated, since the vaccine was formulated early this year.
In past seasons when viruses have drifted, flu vaccines have still provided some protection that can reduce the likelihood of severe complications. Vaccination also protects against other circulating strains of flu that have not drifted, such as Influenza A (H1N1) and Influenza B viruses.
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.
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; Healthy Community Coalition of Greater Franklin County (schedule forthcoming), 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.
The Healthy Community Coalition of Greater Franklin County has released its flu shot schedule. Staff will be available to administer the influenza vaccine (seasonal flu shot) to individuals 18 years old and older at numerous sites throughout our community.
The schedule is as follows:
- Friday 12/12 - Farmington Public Library from 10 – 11:30 a.m.
- Monday 12/15 - Stratton Library from 10 a.m. – noon
- Thursday 12/18 – Phillips Town Office from 9 – 10:30 a.m.
- Thursday 12/18 – Rangeley Library from 11:15 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.
- Thursday 12/18 – Strong Community Building from 2 – 3:30 p.m.
- Tuesday 12/23 – Industry Town Hall from 1 – 2:30 p.m.
- Tuesday 12/30 – Carrabassett Valley Library from 2 – 4 p.m.
In the event of inclement weather that involves school closures, flu clinics on those dates will be rescheduled.
Please bring your insurance card and information with you. Most insurance companies cover the cost of receiving the shot. For individuals that do not have insurance there is a suggested donation of $20 or whatever you can afford. Healthy Community Coalition purchases all vaccine used for the public clinics and appreciates donations to help cover costs for those in need. For more information, contact the Healthy Community Coalition at 779-2750.
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.
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