As the country observes National Influenza Vaccination Week from Dec. 6 to Dec. 12, the Maine Center for Disease Control in the Maine Department of Health and Human Services urges all Mainers to get vaccinated.

According to a press release from the Maine CDC, the flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that can cause mild to severe illness. It can result in missed days of school or work, severe illness and life-threatening complications for many people.

“Influenza is circulating nationally and has already arrived in Maine,” said Dr. Stephen Sears, state epidemiologist with Maine CDC. “The best way to prevent influenza is to get vaccinated.”

The U.S. CDC recommends immunizing all persons older than 6 months, even if they got a seasonal or 2009 H1N1 vaccine last season. This year, the H1N1 vaccine is included in the seasonal vaccine. Vaccination of high-risk persons is especially important, said Sears, to reduce their risk of severe illness.

Those at high risk include young children, older adults, pregnant women and persons of any age who have certain chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, chronic lung disease and heart disease.

“Vaccination is important for health-care workers and other people who live with or care for high-risk people to keep from spreading influenza to the people under their care,” said Sears.

“Children younger than 6 months are at high risk of serious complications due to influenza, but are too young to get the flu vaccine. People who care for them should be vaccinated instead.”

Estimates from a federal CDC survey conducted last month nationally indicated that by around Nov. 2, 31 percent of children (6 months to 17 years) and 34 percent of adults (18 years and older) nationally had received a flu vaccine this season.

In Cumberland County, 34 percent of children and 39 percent of adults are estimated to have been vaccinated. In addition, results from Cumberland County indicate that more than 60 percent of children and 34 percent of adults who have not yet been vaccinated will definitely or probably get a flu vaccine this year.

People seeking a flu vaccine can contact their health-care providers. Flu vaccines are also being offered at school-located clinics throughout the state and a number of flu vaccine clinics are held in pharmacies, supermarkets and other businesses. A schedule may be found at and

More than 90 percent of state-purchased vaccine has been distributed to health-care providers around the state, including 80,000 doses for children in school-located clinics statewide.

During the past several flu seasons, the Maine CDC said, influenza arrived during the holiday season and peaked in the first few months of the following year.

The Maine CDC also reminded Mainers of the “No Flu 4 You” strategy to prevent the spread of disease including: 1. washing hands; 2. covering one’s cough; 3. staying home when sick; and 4. getting vaccinated.