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Published as a Public Service by REM, Convenor of Collaborative Community Enterprises Fall 2007

Protect Human Potential

MaineGeneral To Hold Flu Vaccination Clinics

By John Begin

MaineGeneral's Flu Clinics in Waterville and Winslow

Nov. 8
Noon 4 p.m.
Muskie Center
38 Gold Street, Waterville
Nov. 15
9 a.m. 1 p.m.
Winslow VFW
Dunbar Road, Winslow
Nov. 29
9 a.m. 1 p.m.
Seton Village
One Carver St., Waterville
Additional clinics are scheduled in Augusta (Nov. 6 & 20), Gardiner (Nov. 13), Hallowell (Nov.27), and Winthrop (Dec. 4). For more information about any of the clinics, call Michelle Caldwell at 626-1115 or visit MaineGeneral's web site.

It's that time of year again time to protect yourself against influenza by getting a flu shot. Ensuring that people in the community have access to the flu shot has been a significant part of MaineGeneral's community outreach program for more than a decade.

Michelle Caldwell, MaineGeneral's community relations health promotion coordinator, said the organization vaccinated 1,168 adults in 2006 through nine community-based flu clinics. Eight similar clinics are planned this year in Augusta, Gardiner, Hallowell, Waterville, Winslow and Winthrop.

Each flu shot costs $20 and is covered by Medicare, Caldwell said, adding that clinics are open to those 18 years and older. The clinics are "walk-in clinics," so no appointment is needed.

Influenza or flu is a very contagious disease caused by a virus that typically is passed through the air and enters your body through your nose or mouth. While anyone can get influenza, rates of infection are highest among children, who frequently spread the virus to others. Symptoms include fever; sore throat; chills; fatigue; cough; headache and muscle aches.

For most, the flu causes temporary discomfort. But each year in the United States, the flu and its complications such as pneumonia cause thousands of serious illnesses and even death. The CDC estimates that 226,000 people in the United States are hospitalized yearly because of influenza and 36,000 mostly elderly patients die from the virus.

Flu vaccinations are recommended for anyone at risk for complications from influenza or those more likely to need medical care, including:

A nurse gives a man a flu shot.

For most people, a flu vaccination will prevent serious flu-related illnesses but will not prevent flu-like illnesses caused by other viruses. If you have questions about the vaccine, please contact your health care provider.

Editor's Note: John Begin is a communications specialist for MaineGeneral Health.