PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Public health officials are urging most everyone 6 months of age and older to get their flu shots in light of the tragic death of an elementary school aged child in Maine and the deaths of two people in New Hampshire related to the flu outbreak.
"It is not too late. If you have not had the flu, you should go out and get the flu shot if you have not had it," said State Epidemiologist, Dr. Stephen Sears with the Maine Center for Disease Control."We know that it is all over the United States. We know that it is all over Maine," he added. "We have what is called as widespread disease. We've seen it from Aroostook County all the way down to York, from the coast to the mountains, so it is everywhere."
"The virus changes a little bit every year, so that is why we keep seeing it. Some years it is worse than others, and some years we don't quite see as much, but we always have influenza and it is almost always in the winter."
Dr. Sears says the holidays are usually when they start seeing flu cases in Maine, and that the mix of many people traveling and visiting friends and family helps the virus spread.
"Right now, the holidays, people are all getting together, they are coming from various locations, it is the perfect mixing bowl from a virus standpoint," he explained. "We all get together and we share it much more, so if you think about a disease that we have to cough or sneeze or get to somebody else, this type of environment with us being indoors and around each other is much more likely to cause the disease."
He says there is plenty of vaccine available and says getting vaccinated at your local pharmacy is safe as they have been trained to administer the shot and explain its benefits.