Influenza is spreading more rapidly in Maine, with case counts nearly doubling in one week.

Maine reported 510 cases for the week ending Dec. 23 – the latest data available – up from 260 the previous week.

Dr. Puthiery Va, director of the Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said influenza cases will continue to spike and likely peak sometime in January or February.

“We would expect flu cases to increase in the coming weeks,” Va said. “What is reassuring is the current influenza vaccine is going to be effective. If you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet, go ahead and get your flu shot. It’s not too late.”

Scientists modify the formulation for the flu vaccine every season based on predictions of which influenza strains are likely to be most common for the upcoming season. In Maine and the U.S., the predominant strain so far this season is Influenza A, which tends to cause more severe symptoms for adults than for children. Influenza B strains tend to be less severe for adults and cause worse symptoms in children.

Influenza peaked earlier last winter, in late December, and Maine recorded a total of 16,309 cases of influenza for the 2022-23 season. Flu season runs from October to May, and Va said Maine is now trending toward a more typical peak of January or February.


Despite the one-week jump in infections, the number of influenza cases remains low in Maine, according to the U.S. CDC. But there are high numbers in nearby states, including Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey. The entire Southeast region is experiencing high numbers of flu cases, as are some western states, including California and Arizona.

So far this season, 73 people have been hospitalized with influenza in Maine, and two people have died.

For those who haven’t yet received their flu shot, there is still time to protect yourself against the dangerous virus. Influenza can be especially severe for older people, pregnant women, young children and infants. Common symptoms of the flu include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headaches and fatigue.

For those who haven’t received the updated COVID-19 vaccine, Va recommends getting both during the same appointment. Side effects are not any worse for those who get both vaccines at the same time.

A vaccine for another respiratory virus, RSV, is recommended for those 60 and older and women who are 32 to 36 weeks pregnant. Va said since infectious disease cases are climbing rapidly, it would be a good idea for those who qualify for the RSV vaccine to get all three immunizations at the same appointment.

The vaccines are widely available at pharmacies and primary care doctors’ offices. Maine stopped tracking COVID-19 vaccinations, but nationally, about 40% of the population gets a flu shot every year, while only about 18% have gotten the updated COVID-19 vaccine. Maine immunized more than 80% of its population during the initial rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in 2021, but fewer people have gotten subsequent booster shots and updated vaccines that more closely match circulating strains.

COVID-19 cases are also prevalent throughout New England right now, with wastewater testing showing high levels in much of Maine, including Cumberland and York counties. The JN.1 subvariant, an offshoot of the omicron strain, is the predominant circulating strain.

There were 93 patients hospitalized in Maine for COVID-19 on Friday. Hospitalizations have increased in recent months, up from about 40-50 patients in September and October.

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