In December, Maine experienced the first influenza death. The person was a school-aged child who had not been immunized for influenza. Every school is experiencing absences related to influenza, sometimes in great numbers. The U.S. CDC predicts that this will be a difficult year for influenza. Historic data indicates that the number of influenza cases peaks in February.
The Maine Department of Education is working with the Maine Center for Disease Control to increase the number of children who will be protected against influenza. Protection from influenza vaccine begins within days of vaccination. A large number of School Administrative Units responded and held school-located vaccine clinics last fall. I encourage SAUs that have not participated to reconsider and districts that have participated to consider offering vaccination again. Immunization is relatively easy and is the one sure way to prevent this disease.
Vaccine is available at no cost to student or school. Resources are available to assist. If your School Nurse has questions suggest they contact Ruth Lawson-Stopps, Communications & Outreach Coordinator, School Located Vaccine Clinics, Maine Department of Education at firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-441-1325.