Health officials warn increase in flu cases coming

| 04/11/2009

(CNS): With news from the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) of an unprecedented and early widespread increase in the number of H1N1 flu cases throughout the United States, health officials are expecting a similar pattern here in the Cayman Islands as the colder season approaches.  The Health Service Authority said there will be more serious illness, more hospitalizations and possibly even more deaths than normally occur during the flu season. The HSA added that there had already been more paediatric deaths from H1N1 flu than is usually seen in the entire flu season in the US.

Dr Greg Hoeksema warned the most vulnerable members of the Cayman community that the virus will increase activity during the colder months of December and January.

The HSA is advising residents to get their flu vaccine as soon as possible. The regular seasonal flu vaccine is already available (1600 people have already been vaccinated) and the H1N1 vaccine is expected to arrive within the next couple weeks.

“While the timing, spread and severity of the upcoming flu season are unpredictable, we do know that the H1N1 virus is still circulating in the Cayman Islands,” Dr Hoeksema.  “Fortunately, the majority of patients continue to do well with just home care and isolation; however a very small number of patients get a severe, rapidly progressive illness.”

There are already around double the number of flu cases than for the corresponding period last year in Cayman and to date there have been 105 confirmed H1N1 flu cases

The doctor noted the concerns of the CDC regarding more hospitalizations and deaths this season than during a normal flu season.  “Flu vaccine is by far the single best protection against getting the flu,” he added, emphasizing the fact that the seasonal influenza vaccine provides the best protection available even when the vaccine does not closely match circulating flu strains. Vaccination can also lessen illness severity and flu-related complication, the Doctor said.

The regular flu vaccine is available at the General Practice Clinic at the Cayman Islands Hospital, Faith Hospital in Cayman Brac and all District Health Centres, from 2:00 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The flu vaccine is FREE to all residents and no appointments are necessary.

A dedicated flu clinic will open on Tuesday, 10 November at the GP Clinic at the Cayman Islands Hospital, but it will have a separate entrance and separate waiting area to minimize exposure to other non-flu patients. There will be signs directing people.

Speaking at this morning’s press briefing, Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush said people should go straight to the dedicated clinic if they had symptoms and not use the main entrance of the GP Clinic.

To minimize workplace disruption and ensure that as many persons as possible to get vaccinated the HSA has implemented a workplace vaccination programme for companies with ten or more employees wishing to have the vaccine.  Companies interested in the program should contact the Public Health Department at 244-2648 to register.

Persons at high risk for complications from seasonal influenza and those who live with or care for high-risk persons are particularly encouraged to get the vaccine.  This group includes: Young children 6 months to four years of age; Pregnant women; People 65 years of age and older; Persons of any age with weakened immune systems and those with chronic medical conditions such as heart, kidney and lung diseases and diabetes; People living in nursing homes and other long term care facilities.

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  1. noname says:

    Why is our government no longer keeping stats on the H1N1 flu virus? I’m surprised that the CDC is allowing this.

  2. T says:

    Of course, it’s another conspiracy by the AG!!!

  3. Anonymous says:

    This flu thing is an absolute load of rubbish. Anyway, we will see soon what is behind it.

    • Anonymous says:

      You won’t be saying that when you get it! For many people it lays you low for a couple of weeks and for certain groups of people out there it can have quite serious consequences.  I would not think members of those vulnerable groups would appreciate your cavalier attitude.

      • Anonymous says:

        Just remember to stock up on BEROCCA and ELDER, another herb medicine from  Linda gouldbournes store on Eastern Avenue. If taken according to direction you will never get the flu.

    • An Upset Caymanian says:

       I just cannot believe that u have the nerves to call this H1N1 rubbish? Caymanians you all need to take this flu thing  more seriously!  Get your Children vaccinated and keep making them wash theirhands!   If you don’t  have no concerns about yourselves, at least stop being selfish for once and think about your children instead!  Put them first!

      This is the pandemic of the century and you bets believe that you can expect many deaths like in the America and around the world!!  We all need to take heed now to protect ourselves….People look to your Children!!!