AROOSTOOK COUNTY – In response to the impact that that flu is having in the region, The Aroostook Medical Center (TAMC) will be offering an additional free adult flu shot clinic in Presque Isle on Saturday, Feb. 17, from 10 a.m.- 12 noon.
TAMC Staff will be located inside the Crown Ambulance bay, located in front of the hospital on Academy Street. Those interested in receiving the vaccine will simply drive up, receive the shot and drive out. It could not be easier.
Flu season runs from October through May, which is why TAMC’s flu shot clinics have been traditionally held in October. The hospital gave out 1,057 free adult flu shots this past fall. However, with all of the influenza cases being seen across Maine and in Aroostook County, hospital officials decided to hold a special clinic now to help those who did not get immunized in the fall.
“We want to do all that we can to help protect the community,” said Linda Foley, TAMC’s manager of infection prevention and policy management. “We have seen increases in flu cases in the past couple of weeks. Our emergency department has seen an 80% increase in respiratory illness in the past couple of weeks. We have seen 20 cases of influenza A in five days. Patients of all ages are presenting with symptoms.”
The flu strain most predominantly being seen in Maine is A H3N2, one of the most virulent strains, especially for seniors. This is one of the four strains covered in the flu shots being given this year.
While some statistics nationally have indicated that the flu shot is a little over 30% effective this year, Foley says it is still important for people to get it.
“The Centers for Disease Control is clear that the two most important things you can do to avoid the flu is get your flu shot and to maintain good hand hygiene. And while you still may get the flu despite having a vaccine, your symptoms will be a lot less severe. Flu shots also help lessen the spread of the flu in the community,” explained Foley.
Foley notes that two other important steps to help decrease the spread of the flu are covering your mouth when you cough, preferably with your arm and not your hand, and staying home when you are sick.
Nationally, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported widespread flu cases in every state except Hawaii.