Get vaccinated and practise proper hygiene, Tufton urges
AS THE 2016 flu season begins, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton is encouraging Jamaicans to ensure that they take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the influenza virus, otherwise called flu, by practising proper hygiene and making sure they get their vaccines.
The Ministry of Health hosted a press briefing at its offices in New Kingston yesterday to give an update on the current state of influenza in Jamaica.
“First of all, it’s a sanitary issue. It’s about the washing of hands; it’s about good hygiene and managing your hygiene status, in terms of how you cough, and washing your hands and keeping it clean. Secondly, there are high-risk groups who are affected – the very young and the very old are particularly vulnerable. Beyond that, we have taken precautions this year, given the severity of last year, to boost the number of vaccines or doses of vaccines that we have,” the minister said.
Persons with compromised immune systems, obese persons, or persons who have other forms of ailments were urged by the minister to take extra precautions.
“The front-line health-care workers become particularly vulnerable because they have to interface with the public, and, therefore, are exposed to any conditions that they have to diagnose and assess,” he said.
“We normally invite them to be vaccinated first and foremost. We do encourage the general populace to look to taking the vaccine because the vaccine is one barrier or one line of defence separate and apart from what we have promoted in terms of hygiene.”
Given the severity of influenza last year, the ministry has increased its vaccine stock to about 500 per cent.
“We have stocked up and it’s (vaccine) here in the country, somewhere in the region of 500 per cent more than we had in the previous year. We have an average of about 23,780 doses of vaccine in stock,” Tufton announced.
The National Public Health Laboratory on Slipe Pen Road in Kingston was ordered closed yesterday by the fire department after fumes were detected coming from the building. Employees were sent home for the day. Director of the National Laboratory Services Dr Angela Scott subsequently said the lab is expected to be reopened today.