Get vac­ci­nated and prac­tise proper hy­giene, Tufton urges

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Ja­son Cross Gleaner Writer ja­son.cross@glean­erjm.com

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.

NOR­MAN GRINDLEY/CHIEF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

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.

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