Thursday, January 9, 2014

Flu update 1/9/14

Influenza activity in Maine is widespread with laboratory confirmed influenza reported in all counties. Influenza A/pH1N1, Influenza A/H3, and influenza B have been confirmed in Maine indicating all three strains are circulating.  Maine CDC has followed up on six outbreaks of influenza as of Tuesday, January 7th. Influenza vaccination is still strongly encouraged and is widely available, especially to protect those persons at risk of severe disease.  The vaccine appears to be a good match to the circulating strains this year, and it is not too late to get vaccinated.  

For more information, see the Health Alert from Dec. 26 about Early Reports of pH1N1-Associated Illnesses for the 2013-14 Influenza Season at http://go.usa.gov/Zp6w and the Health Alert from Jan. 8 about Widespread Influenza Activity in Maine at http://go.usa.gov/ZdAj

Weekly updates on flu activity are available online:
In addition, people and clinicians may review or anonymously report flu at www.flunearyou.org  


Prevention 

Take everyday preventive measures against the flu:
  • 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 spread this way.
  • Consult your health care provider about getting a pneumococcal vaccine for anyone who is younger than 5, between ages 5 and 64 with high risk conditions, or age 65 and older.
  • Avoid contact with sick people. If you are at very high risk for complications, you may want to avoid large crowds.

Vaccination

There is still time to get vaccinated against the flu for this season. Full immunity develops 7-10 days after the vaccine is administered. To find locations where vaccine is available, contact your health care provider or pharmacy, call 211, or visit www.211maine.org  or www.flu.gov 

Maine CDC recommends that Health Care Providers continue vaccinating to protect against influenza this year. To ensure that vaccine is available for all Maine people who are seeking it, please use the following as guidelines:

Health Care Providers should use state-supplied vaccine for patients in the following circumstances:
  • The patient is a child ages 6 months through 18 years;
  • The patient is pregnant or the partner of a pregnant patient;
  • The patient's insurance does not cover vaccinations;
  • The patient is uninsured.
Health Care Providers may use state-supplied vaccine for other patients only if:
  • The Health Care Provider has already vaccinated all eligible patients listed above and has excess state-supplied vaccine; and
  • Privately purchased vaccine is not available.
Please remember that providers may not charge for state-supplied vaccine. It is reasonable and allowable to charge an administration fee for administration of state-supplied vaccine in some circumstances provided that:
  1. MaineCare-eligible children are not charged an out of pocket administration fee;
  2. Administration fees do not exceed the regional Medicare maximum; and
  3. No one is denied vaccine because of their inability to pay an administration fee.  

Treatment

If you have the flu:
  • 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 the tissue away.
  • Although most people can stay home to recover without seeing a health care provider, it is possible for healthy people to develop severe illness from the flu. Anyone with the flu should seek medical attention for:
    • Dehydration
    • Trouble breathing
    • Getting better, then suddenly getting a lot worse
    • Any major change in condition

For more information, visit www.maineflu.gov

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