Maine health officials concerned about a bad flu season this year

Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 4:29 PM EST
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Maine (WABI) - Researchers across the country are saying this year’s flu shot is less effective for a major strain of the virus.

In a preliminary study, health experts say the strain of Influenza has changed, and the current vaccines against it are no longer a good match.

The strain of flu is referred to as H3N2.

Combined with an expected rise in COVID cases after the holidays, health officials are worried how a potentially bad flu season will affect hospitals in Maine.

”So, we know that Influenza is out in our communities. It just adds one more thing that is out there that can result in people requiring hospitalization, and unfortunately, we know that Influenza is a deadly virus as well. So, it just adds to that particular strain,” said Dr. James Jarvis with Northern Light Health.

Dr. Jarvis adds that although the flu shot is not a perfect match with this strain, it does still provide some resistance, and he recommends getting it.

Some immediate help in hospitals is on the way however.

Governor Mills announced Tuesday that FEMA has approved the state’s request for Federal Ambulance Teams to help eight Maine hospitals.

With Maine hospitals understaffed and health care workers overworked, Northern Light Health officials say this will provide immediate help to their hospitals.

”Something we feel will be beneficial to us is one, adding to our already crucial ability to transport patients from one location to another. Particularly if they need to get to a level of care that is necessary for them. And then the ability for some of these individuals to help and work in our emergency departments where they will be stationed at,” said Dr. Jarvis.

Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor will receive one of those ambulance crews that consists of a driver and a paramedic.

St. Joseph Hospital in Bangor, Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, and MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta are also getting federal help.

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