BANGOR – More than 300 Bangor-area residents rolled up their sleeves for a flu shot at the city’s public influenza vaccine clinic on Wednesday. Staff at the Bangor Civic Center event said vaccine supplies are plentiful and that Mainers should get a shot between now and early December for the best protection.
Flu season in Maine typically runs from October through May. While its symptoms typically include fever, cough, aches, pains and general misery for several days, the viral disease can also turn deadly and is responsible each year for about 35,000 deaths nationwide.
Those at greatest risk of serious illness and complications include children ages 6 months through 4 years, pregnant women, people 50 and older, people of any age with chronic medical conditions, and people who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
Others who should get vaccinated each year are those who live with or care for high-risk individuals, including health care workers and child care providers. The general public is advised to get a flu shot each year as well.
Karl Norton, 68, of Bangor, was among those who took advantage of Wednesday’s clinic. He tries to get a vaccine every year, he said, and it seems to have paid off.
“I don’t think I’ve had the flu for 30 years,” he said as a nurse pasted an “I got a flu shot” sticker onto his plaid shirt. “I don’t remember the last time I had it.”
His wife will probably get a vaccine at her physician’s office, Norton said, but he likes the convenience of the walk-in clinic.
The civic center clinic was the second one this month organized by the Bangor Regional Influenza Coalition, or BRIC. The group includes a number of area health care groups and is an integral part of the region’s disaster response plan. The clinics are set up using the “incident command” system that would be in wide use in the event of a disease outbreak, biological terrorist attack or other public health disaster.
Information officer Leslie Peterson, who is also the town nurse in Orono, said the flu vaccine clinic enjoyed an excellent turnout with people moving smoothly through the process in about 15 minutes.
Although Wednesday was the last large-scale clinic planned by BRIC, several smaller community clinics will be held in coming weeks. Vaccines are also available at most area health care practices as well as at the city’s pubic health clinic on Texas Avenue in Bangor. The public health clinic offers vaccine clinics from 9 to 11 a.m. Mondays and Wednesdays. Call 992-4547 for more information.
The schedule for some flu clinics throughout eastern Maine can be found online at www.findaflushot.com.