Flu jabs available as case load increases

| 27/11/2013

(CNS): Although around 1,400 people have taken up the offer of a free flu vaccination from the Health Services Authority (HSA). Public health officials are urging more people to take advantage of the shots as they forecast a high prevalence of flu this winter.  The Centers for Disease Control reports that flu activity remains slightly increased in the United States, even though worldwide it remains low. In theCaribbean and Central American region, influenza activity is high with reports of A (H1N1) and A (H3N2) detections. Likewise here in Cayman more cases have been reported including at least one confirmed case of A H1N1(2009).

“Usually we average about 85 to 90 cases Flu like illness (Acute Respiratory infections) per week,” said Dr Kiran Kumar the medical officer of health. “During the month of September 2013, we averaged 141 cases of Acute Respiratory infections per week. This is well above the weekly average and indicates the start of the 2013/14 Influenza season along with the opening of the schools.”

Dr Kumar pointed out that an annual flu vaccine is the first and most important step for protection against the viruses as he encouraged those concerned about getting sick this winter to take up the free vaccine offer.

The number of cases has declined to an average of 132 per week during the month of October and to 127 per week in November.  As of November 16, 2013 the total number of cases reported is 5,290 compared to 4,161 for the corresponding period last year.  We continue to monitor the situation,” Dr Kumar added.

He also confirmed the results of recent tests. “Since September there were thirteen samples for Respiratory Viral testing. Among them was one positive for Influenza A by local testing, confirmed  by  the Caribbean Public Health Agency, Trinidad (CARPHA)  as  A H1N1(2009).

None were positive for Influenza B so far. While the confirmed case is only one, we presume the seasonal flu strains A H1N1, A H3N2 and Influenza B are circulating. Irrespective of the strain, the prevention and management is the same,” he said.

December & January are peak periods for flu activity in North America and the Cayman Islands may see a similar situation.  “Hence it is essential to get thevaccine now,” the government doctor advised.

The public can get the flu vaccine at any time between 2pm and 4pm weekdays when they visit any District Health Centre, or the General Practice Clinic Cayman Islands Hospital,  Faith Hospital in Cayman Brac  or the Little Cayman Clinic. 

The Public Health Department is continuing the onsite workplace vaccination initiative for companies with twenty or more employees wishing to have the vaccine to minimize disruption of work.  The site visit can be scheduled by contacting the Public Health Department on 244-2648.

The vaccination is recommended for all persons aged six months and older. It is particularly important for the young, the elderly, pregnant women, persons with weakened immune systems, morbidly obese persons (with a BMI of 40 or greater) as well as healthcare workers and caregivers. In addition to the vaccination, personal hygiene measures of covering your cough, sanitary disposal of used tissues and hand washing are essential in prevention and control of flu.

For further information, please contact the Public Health Department on 244-2648.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Nice to see a couple of luddites who don't understand stastistics and how many people die of 'flu.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Keep your big pahrma poison to yourself, thanks

  3. Anonymous says:

    Gosh…don't support Bigfarma