The first case of laboratory-confirmed influenza in Maine this season was reported this week. It was a case of type B influenza in someone who recently returned from a visit out of state. Type B as well as type A 2009 H1N1 pandemic strain and type A H2N3 have all been detected circulating in the U.S. All three are also reflected in this year’s seasonal flu vaccine, which is now recommended for all ages 6 months and older. For more information, see this Health Alert: http://www.maine.gov/tools/whatsnew/attach.php?id=151569&an=2
Weekly updates on flu activity in Maine are available at http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/boh/influenza_surveillance_weekly_updates.shtml
Most influenza vaccine arrives in Maine through private sector channels, but Maine CDC will be distributing a total of about 290,000 doses of flu vaccine this year.
Doses Approved for Shipment as of Nov. 10:
Children ages 6 months to 18 years
Nursing homes and long-term care facilities
* This includes doses shipped to both schools and private health care providers.
Number of schools that have received flu vaccine so far: 336
Number of doses distributed to schools so far: 82,688
Now is the perfect time for most people to get vaccinated against the flu. Maine CDC strongly encourages everyone who is older than six months of age to get vaccinated against the flu this season – a new recommendation from the US CDC, which had previously focused on people at high risk of flu. There is already a significant amount of vaccine available in Maine, and many schools are offering vaccine to students during the school day.
Anyone can get sick from the flu, but certain people are at greater risk for serious complications from the flu, including:
· older people,
· young children,
· people with chronic lung disease (such as asthma and COPD), diabetes (type 1 and 2), heart disease, neurologic conditions, and certain other long-term health conditions,
· pregnant women, as well as
· American Indians and Alaska Natives, and
· people with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or more.
Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent the flu and its complications. Vaccine is already available in many places – you can check listings by zip code at www.flu.gov or www.211maine.org. Over the years, hundreds of millions of people in the U.S. have safely received seasonal flu vaccines. Last flu season, about 80 million people in the U.S. also received the vaccine made to protect against the 2009 H1N1 virus, and the vaccine’s safety was similar to that of seasonal flu vaccines.
The 2010-2011 flu vaccine will protect against three types of flu including the 2009 H1N1 virus. The 2010-2011 seasonal flu vaccine is recommended even if you got the 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine last season. People who were sick with the flu last season should also still get a flu shot this year.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sleeve.
- Wash hands frequently.
- Stay home if ill with a fever.
- Get vaccinated against the flu.
- Ask your doctor if you should receive a pneumococcal vaccine.