PORTLAND — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control on Sept. 9 released expanded recommendations for who should receive the seasonal influenza vaccine, and local organizations and businesses are responding by launching seasonal flu clinics throughout southern Maine.
The CDC recommends the vaccine for people who are at risk of complications from influenza, which now includes pregnant women, children ages 6 months through 18 years, senior citizens, people with chronic health problems, residents of long-term care facilities, and caregivers in close contact with people at risk of serious influenza, including child-care providers, medical professionals and family members.
The CDC says people who should not be vaccinated are those with severe allergies to chicken eggs, people who have had a severe reaction to a previous influenza vaccination and children younger than 6 months of age. People who have a moderate to severe illness with a fever should wait until they recover to get vaccinated.
The seasonal flu vaccine will not provide protection against the 2009 H1N1 “swine flu.” Public health officials plan to distribute the H1N1 vaccine when it becomes available. Priority will be given to those considered “higher risk” by the CDC, such as people with chronic health problems like asthma, diabetes and heart disease.
HomeHealth Visiting Nurses is holding weekly seasonal flu clinics from 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays at its office at 15 Industrial Park Road, Saco, and at locations throughout Cumberland and York counties through November.
HomeHealth Visiting Nurses accepts Medicare Part B, Anthem/Blue Cross and Aetna as payment. Insurance cards must be presented at clinics. Out-of-pocket fees for the clinics, with an available sliding fee scale, are $30 for the seasonal flu shot and $35 for FluMist, a nasal spray made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu. It will be offered to children ages 2 to 18 as an alternative to the traditional inactivated “flu shot” vaccine. Parental consent is required to vaccinate children under 18 years of age.
For more information on seasonal flu and HHVN clinic locations, visit homehealth.org or call the HHVN flu shot hot-line at 1-800-747-4FLU (4358).
Hannaford supermarkets will also offer flu shots at the Alive & Well Expo, a health and fitness event on Sept. 26-27 at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland. Seasonal flu shots will be available for $30 for adults and children ages 9 years and older, or $25 for members of Hannaford’s Healthy Saver Plus pharmacy program.
Select CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens pharmacies in Maine are offering seasonal flu shots, too. Stores and flu shot availability can be found on the CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens Web sites. The Osco pharmacy at the Shaw’s supermarket on Route 1 in Falmouth will offer shots Tuesday, Oct. 6, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Wednesday, Oct. 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Pharmacy prices range between $25 and $30.
In an effort to make it easier for people to find clinics that offer the seasonal flu vaccine, the American Lung Association has launched an online directory of public seasonal flu vaccination clinics at flucliniclocator.org. The Web site features a searchable database with more than 650,000 clinic locations across the country.
Heather Gunther can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 115 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated Sept. 16, 2009, to add information from Shaw’s Osco Pharmacy.
Here is the Portland-area schedule of HomeHealth Visiting Nurses seasonal flu shot clinics for September and October:
• Tuesday, Sept. 29, 1-3:30 p.m., Scarborough Town Hall.
• Wednesday, Sept. 30, 9-11:30 a.m., First Baptist Church, 360 Canco Road, Portland.
• Tuesday, Oct. 6, 1-4 p.m., Woodfords Congregational Church, Portland.
• Wednesday, Oct. 7, 9 a.m.-noon, Yarmouth Amvets.
• Monday, Oct. 12, 9-11:30 a.m., Maine Medical Center Campus, Scarborough.
• Wednesday, Oct. 14, noon-2 p.m., Yarmouth Amvets.
• Monday, Oct. 26, 1-3 p.m., Falmouth Congregational Church.
• Tuesday, Oct. 27, 9-11 a.m., St. Bartholomew’s Church, Cape Elizabeth.
• Tuesday, Oct. 27, 1-3 p.m., Salvation Army, Portland.
• Thursday, Oct. 29, 9-11:30 a.m., Southern Maine Agency on Aging, Scarborough.