Thursday 19 September, 2019

Health Ministry encourages citizens to get flu vaccine

Citizens, particularly at risk groups, are being urged to protect themselves against influenza by accessing the 2018 flu vaccine at no cost at the nation’s health centres.

The advisory was issued by the Health Ministry, and backed by the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).   

The advice follows an article published in a daily newspaper which suggested that flu vaccines were unsafe and vitamin C was more effective in preventing Influenza.

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The Ministry on Thursday advised that the 2018 flu season vaccination drive continues as visitors arrive from countries with active flu transmission for the Carnival season.

It assured, however, that the vaccine used for the current flu season complies with World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations, and has been formulated to take account of flu viruses circulating in the region. 

The Ministry stressed that the vaccine is inactivated, which means that it does not contain the live influenza virus and therefore cannot cause the flu.

 

The flu vaccine provides protection against the flu virus and serious complications like pneumonia; reduction in the severity of flu symptoms, if they do occur; protection against the flu for pregnant women during and after pregnancy; reduction in the risk of flu-like illness in babies after birth, when mothers receive the vaccine during pregnancy; reduction in the risk of deaths in children from the flu; and reduction in absenteeism from work and school.

Children aged 6 months to 5 years, pregnant women, adults over 65, people with chronic medical conditions (such as Diabetes Mellitus) and those with chronic respiratory illnesses (such as Asthma) are especially urged to get the vaccine.

Persons in health care and essential services as are also recommended to get vaccinated as they are more likely to be exposed to persons ill with influenza.

Influenza is a serious illness that is generally more severe than the common cold and can be fatal. It is therefore crucial that members of the public get vaccinated. 

After vaccination, individuals should still take preventative measures which reduce the spread of viruses, the Ministry added.

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