Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has put the island on alert for influenza (the “flu”), noting a significant increase in the number of cases of fever and respiratory or flu-like illnesses.
The flu is an acute viral infection that spreads easily from person to person, mainly by coughing, sneezing and through close contact. The viruses circulate worldwide and can affect anybody in any age group with symptoms varying by age and include fever/chills, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, cough, headache, and runny or stuffy nose.
Persons at highest risk of dangerous complications from the flu are infants and young children, adults 60 years and older, pregnant women, and persons with chronic medical conditions or weakened immune systems.
The vaccine is offered free of cost in the public health system to the following high-priority groups:
• Health care workers;
• Children and elderly with chronic illnesses;
• Pregnant women;
• Individuals who are institutionalized or in state care; and
• Non-health front-line workers.
Private health care providers were, meanwhile, encouraged to procure the influenza vaccine through private distributors in order to provide for the general population.