The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the Department of Health and Human Services is urging people to get vaccinated against H1N1 influenza.

“Now that plenty of vaccine is available we strongly recommend everyone get vaccinated,’’ said Dr. Dora Anne Mills, director of the Maine CDC.

“There are about 100 public places that vaccine can be obtained, including several dozen clinics that are offering the vaccine for free. You can find vaccine by calling 211, checking the flu clinic locator Web site at, or by calling your health-care provider.”

Pandemic influenza strains such as H1N1 are more contagious than normal influenza viruses, so vaccination is a critical strategy to stop its circulation and chances of the virus  worsening.

“Even if you are not in one of the high-risk groups, it is likely someone you live with or work with is. It is important to get vaccinated to protect your own health as well as those whom you are close with,” said Mills.

Since the beginning of January, 10 Mainers have reportedly been hospitalized for H1N1, including four children. Of those hospitalized, three required admission to an intensive care unit, including one child and one young adult.

During the 1957 pandemic, there was a mild surge in the spring, followed by a large surge in the fall, another large one in the winter of 1958 and others following that, with the virus circulating for several years. All pandemics are different, but most have multiple waves of illness and death.

“Although the H1N1 disease surge is on the decline, these hospitalizations remind us that the virus is expected to circulate for months, if not years, to come. Pandemics usually come in waves and if the last pandemic is any indication, we may have another wave of disease. Now is an excellent time to get vaccinated, especially given the amount of vaccine available,” said Mills.