Wed | Jan 16, 2019

Flu vaccine available to high-risk groups - MOH

Published:Thursday | December 13, 2018 | 4:12 PM
Acting Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie addresses a press conference held at the ministry’s New Kingston offices on Wednesday, December 12, 2018. Also pictured is Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton. - Contributed photo

Acting Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie has said that the flu vaccine is now available to high-risk groups, including children, the elderly, and persons with immuno-compromised conditions such as cancer and diabetes.

“These are the persons who we try to protect because they are the most vulnerable to the influenza virus, and so, therefore, this vaccine is available in health centres for these persons,” she said during a press conference held at the ministry’s New Kingston offices on Wednesday.

She noted that the ministry does not at this time have the capacity to vaccinate everyone who requires the flu vaccine. However, she noted that it is also available privately, so persons can visit their private health practitioners in order to get vaccinated.

“In particular, we do try to vaccinate our healthcare providers because we realise that they may be the conduit as they are receiving all the germs… . We don’t want them to pass it on to persons, so it is very important that the healthcare provider is vaccinated as well to ensure that they do not form a part of that problem,” she said.

In the meantime, Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton encouraged persons to protect themselves and others from contracting influenza by practising proper hygiene.

More Jamaicans are prone to contracting influenza during the flu season, which begins to heighten between October and November, peaks between December and March, and can last until as late as May.

The ministry recommends that members of the public, especially those belonging to priority groups, get the flu vaccine.

These include healthcare workers; pregnant women; children over six months of age with chronic illnesses; non-health front-line workers, such as members of the police, army, and correctional services and customs and immigration officers; parliamentarians; institutionalised persons; and persons over 65 years old with chronic illnesses.

Flu vaccination protects individuals from influenza infections, decreases the severity of influenza infections, and minimises the spread of flu viruses to other persons.

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