ELLSWORTH — After the recent influenza death of a child from central Maine, the state’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging everyone who has not yet been vaccinated to get a flu shot.
Influenza cases are on the rise in Maine, but there is plenty of vaccine readily available, according to Dr. Sheila Pinette, director of the state CDC.
The school-aged child who died of influenza A was the first pediatric death of the flu season in Maine, Pinette said. Pediatric death due to flu is required to be reported to public health officials and is rare, she said.
The U.S. CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine as the first and best way to protect against influenza. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine annually, even if they were vaccinated last year.
Every year, up to 20 percent of U.S. residents will get the flu. On average, more than 200,000 will be hospitalized for influenza-related complications. People at high risk for developing flu-related complications include: children younger than 5; adults 65 of age and older; pregnant women; American Indians; Alaskan natives; people who have underlying medical conditions (including asthma, heart disease, and weakened immune systems); and those who are morbidly obese.
Signs of influenza include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches and fatigue.
“Anyone with these symptoms should follow the ‘No Flu 4 You’ guidelines,” Pinette said. “This includes hand washing, good respiratory etiquette, including covering your cough, staying home while ill and getting vaccinated.”
For questions regarding the vaccine please contact the Maine Immunization Program at (207) 287-3746 or (800) 867-4775 or by e-mail at [email protected]