The Star-Herald

TAMC slates flu shot clinic

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — In response to regional flu impact, The Aroostook Medical Center will offer an additional free adult flu shot clinic in Presque Isle on Saturday, Feb. 17, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon.

TAMC staff will dispense shots from inside the Crown Ambulance bay, located in front of the hospital on Academy Street.  Those who want the vaccine will simply drive up, receive the shot and drive out.  

The hospital gave out 1,057 free adult flu shots this past fall. However, due to the prevalence of influenza cases, 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 seen most predominantly 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.

Foley said while some national statistics have indicated the flu shot is a little over 30 percent effective this year, 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,” Foley said. “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.”

Foley noted 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.

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