The Division of Health is encouraging Tobagonians to get vaccinated against the flu virus, especially for the upcoming Carnival season when it said many visitors will arrive from countries with active flu transmission.
The Division, in a release, noted that in late 2018, the Ministry of Health, the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) advised members of the public to get the new 2019 flu vaccine, which is available at all health centres nationwide, at no cost.
It said the vaccine complies with World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations and has been formulated to take account of flu viruses circulating in the region.
“It is important to note that Tobago has never recorded any deaths due to the Swine flu virus. However, Tobago has recorded persons infected with the virus within the past few years,” the Division said, advising that vaccines are readily available to all members of the public and that it conducts special outreach to high-risk groups of persons on the Island.
The Division explained that Swine flu is caused by the H1N1 virus and symptoms are like any other flu - coughs, sore throat, fever, stuffy or runny nose, tiredness and body aches.
It said the people who have the flu can spread the virus by coughing, sneezing, or talking, and it may also be contracted by touching their mouths or noses after touching an infected person’s dirty hand or infected doorknobs and tables.
It advises protecting oneself against getting the flue by getting an annual flu shot, avoid persons who exhibit flu-like symptoms, wash your hands often with soap and warm water, or use an alcohol-based hand rub, and cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your arm when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after usage, then wash your hands with soap and warm water.
If you are sick with flu-like symptoms, avoid persons to limit spreading the flu to others, and do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands.
The Division identified high risk groups susceptible to the flu virus as
children aged 6 months to 5 years, pregnant women, adults over 65, persons with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, and with chronic respiratory illnesses such as asthma as well as persons in the health care workforce and essential services.
There have been three H1N1 deaths to date in TT
In Parliament last week Friday, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said 17 H1N1 cases, two of influenza H3N2, and two for influenza B have been recorded to date.