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Portland offers free flu vaccinations in response to ‘widespread’ outbreaks

Brian Snyder | Reuters
Brian Snyder | Reuters
A nurse prepares to administer an influenza vaccine at Boston Children's Hospital in Boston, Mass., on Jan. 10, 2013.
By Seth Koenig, BDN Staff

PORTLAND, Maine — In response to what doctors are calling an early and aggressive flu season, the city of Portland is ramping up free vaccination efforts.

A special flu vaccination clinic will be offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18, at city hall, and flu shots will continue to be offered at the city’s 103 India St. clinic on a walk-in basis throughout the week — from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and until 4:30 p.m. on Fridays.

To combat the flu surge, which has reportedly caused several deaths in New Hampshire and triggered a public health emergency declaration in Boston, the city is waiving fees associated with the vaccinations and is offering the shots free.

The flu has been classified as “widespread” in Maine, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with 65 outbreaks investigated in the state so far this season. Only 10 outbreaks were reported during the previous 2011-12 flu season.

Portland’s announcement Thursday urged all adults and children older than 6 years old to get vaccinations.

“Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and even death,” the city announcement reads, in part. “Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. Vaccinations reduce health care costs by limiting expensive therapies and unnecessary hospitalizations, and decrease the spread of disease in the home, workplace and community. The public should also note that this year’s vaccine is a good match to the circulating strains of influenza.”

Up the coast in Brunswick, Mid Coast Hospital also announced plans to expand distribution of flu vaccinations, in part by increasing the institution’s walk-in clinic weekend hours. In addition to weekday hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., the hospital’s Brunswick Station clinic will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

“Now that we’ve been identified as a valuable resource for healthcare in our region, we will continue to accommodate the needs of the community by increasing availability of our services,” said Joan Ouellette, Mid Coast Primary Care & Walk-In Clinic Practice Manager, in an announcement by the organization.

BDN Health Editor Jackie Farwell contributed to this report.

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