JAY — The School Department here is one of several in the state planning to participate in a program to offer  schoolchildren vaccinations against the seasonal influenza this fall.

Jay Superintendent Robert Wall recently told the School Committee about the importance of taking advantage of the program. The Maine Center for Disease Control is working with the Maine Department of Education to provide communities an opportunity to offer the seasonal influenza vaccine in their schools, he said.

Mt. Blue Regional School District Superintendent Mike Cormier also said his district has sent in all the information to the state to participate. Administrators will also encourage parents to take their children to their primary care physician.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta recommends that all children ages 6 months through 18 years receive an annual vaccination against seasonal influenza.

Children are increasingly recognized at higher risk for complications from influenza, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Web site, www.maine.gov/dhhs/boh/swine-flu-2009.

School-age children have the highest rates of infection with the flu and are the major transmitters of it in a community, Wall said.

More than half the H1N1 influenza cases confirmed in the state are children and young adults, Wall said.

Although the seasonal influenza vaccine will not protect specifically against H1N1, it will help improve the overall health of a child during this coming flu season when both seasonal and H1N1 influenza strains are expected to be circulating, Wall said.

As of July 7, there were 94 Maine residents diagnosed with H1N1, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control’s Web site. Of that number, 93 cases have been confirmed and one is probable.

Of those cases, 49 were between the ages of 5 and 24, 23 between the ages of 25 to 49, seven under age 5, and 14 were between 50 to 64. Seven of those affected had to be hospitalized. Forty-two of the flu sufferers were males and 52 were females.

In addition, 47 out-of-state residents were diagnosed while visiting Maine, for a total of 141 diagnoses in the state, the center’s site shows. There have been 2,587 tests performed in the state.

Of the cases confirmed and probable, 14 of them have been Androscoggin County residents and one was an Oxford County resident, while none were Franklin County residents.

Additionally there were four out-of-state residents diagnosed in Androscoggin County.

There were 36 Mainers diagnosed in Cumberland County and 22 in York County. The counties of Aroostook, Piscataquis, Waldo and Washington have no confirmed or probable cases, according to the center’s information.

According to the agency, it expects an increase in the number of parents who will want their children vaccinated against seasonal influenza.

The state plans to use federal stimulus money to offer the vaccines to school districts in the fall.

Besides the vaccine, the Center for Disease Control will offer educational materials for students and parents as well as parental permission forms, a standing order for school nurses to vaccinate students, necessary training for staff and assistance from the state’s public health nurses. The agency will also provide funds to buy materials including gauzes, Band-Aid strips, alcohol pads, gloves and disposal boxes.

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