Influenza cases and hospitalizations spiked in Maine during the past week, according to data released Tuesday by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Helen Peasley, right, a registered nurse for Northern Light Health, gives Evan Connolly, of Portland, a flu shot during a vaccination clinic at the Westbrook Community Center in November. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Maine recorded 1,720 new cases of influenza during the week ending Dec. 2, more than doubling the 859 new cases reported the previous week. Flu-related hospitalizations nearly quadrupled from the previous week, going from 17 new hospitalizations to 63 for the week ending Dec. 2. A total of 110 people have been hospitalized with influenza-like illnesses since the flu season began in October, and Maine has logged 3,372 flu cases this season.

The U.S. CDC is now categorizing flu activity as high in Maine, as it is in much of the nation.

Flu cases are surging while RSV, or respiratory syncytial virus, continues to pack Maine’s hospitals with pediatric patients. However, public health experts say RSV cases in Maine are increasing more slowly and soon could start to decrease. Nationally, RSV cases may have crested and started going down, public health experts say, although it’s difficult to know because there is no reliable system of tracking RSV cases.

COVID-19 hospitalizations have remained relatively steady over the past few weeks and stood at 118 statewide on Tuesday. Hospital officials are concerned that at some point this winter, Maine will be strained with surging numbers of COVID-19, RSV and influenza hospitalizations.

Unlike the flu and COVID, there is no federally approved vaccine for RSV.

However, the flu vaccine appears to be a good match for influenza A H3N2, the predominant strain of flu circulating, public health experts say. And the COVID-19 vaccine also is very effective, including a booster shot that protects against the circulating omicron strain.

Everyone 6 months and older can get a flu shot, and people 5 and older who have not yet received a COVID-19 booster can get one. Many pharmacies and primary care practices will give eligible patients flu and COVID-19 booster shots during the same visit.

A free walk-in vaccine clinic offering COVID-19 booster shots and flu shots will be held Thursday from 1-4:30 p.m. at the Westbrook Community Center.

Related Headlines

Comments are no longer available on this story

filed under: