FARMINGTON — Franklin Community Health Network is reminding residents that it has an influenza (flu) hotline for Greater Franklin County. The recorded hotline offers information about influenza prevention, local flu vaccine availability and public flu shot clinics. The hotline number is 207-779-3147.

The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat and lungs. It can cause mild to severe illness and at times can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends a yearly flu shot for everyone 6 months of age and older. Vaccination with the nasal-spray flu vaccine is an option for healthy people 2 to 49 years of age who are not pregnant and have no contraindications or precautions to that vaccine. While there are many different flu viruses, the seasonal flu vaccine is designed to protect against the top three or four flu viruses that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season.

For those not yet immunized remember, it is recommended that:

• Get vaccinated as soon as possible. It takes about two weeks after vaccination to develop protection against the flu.

• Cover coughs and sneezes; wear a mask when indicated and appropriate.

• Wash hands frequently with soap and water; avoid touching nose, mouth and eyes.

• Avoid close contact with sick people.

Although most people with the flu can stay home without seeing a health care provider, anyone who is sick should seek medical attention if: he or she is having trouble breathing, becomes dehydrated or has any major change in his health condition.

The Maine Weekly Flu Report dated Oct. 27 indicates that influenza activity is minimal in Maine. Positive flu cases have been identified, but are not widespread.

For additional information on influenza and how to stay healthy during the flu season, go to:

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