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Oct 27, 2004

Doctors promote flu vaccine in Belize

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I’m just one recovering victim, but this week, hundreds of Belizeans have been struck down by one of the most infectious illnesses known to man: the flu. You know the one I’m talking about: the splitting headache, the contagious cough, the sore throat, the high fever and of course, the runny nose. According to the experts, this is the season, but as I found out today, there are simple ways to prevent the stress of being sick.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting

It?s called IMOVAX GRIPE and it?s just one vaccine that Belizean doctors are using in an effort to cripple this year?s flu season. According to health care professionals, the number of influenza virus cases rises every year in Belize.

Dr. Miguel Rosado, General Practitioner

?In Belize, we have been seeing increase incidents of flu especially in the adults. It?s a disease that can have a command cold to a very severe disease for example with high fever, intense headache, muscular pains, vomiting, and sore throat. It is reported that you could have patients dying due to flu or flu complications.?

Vaccines against the flu have only been available in Belize for the past two years, but doctors are advising everyone to get the shot and use practical habits for proper hygiene and good health.

Dr. Miguel Rosado

?One, preventing contact with a person who have flu. Two, the people who have flu should stay at home. Three, the people who have any medical problems–like we mentioned before the Asthmas, Urinal problems–should get vaccinated every year?

There are certain people who should NOT get a flu vaccine, including people who are: allergic to chicken eggs;

have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past; have developed Guillain Barre Syndrome; children younger than six months of age; and people who are sick with fever–You can get the vaccine once the fever goes down.

If you have already been diagnosed with the flu, the doctors say it?s best to stay home and get better. And you should feel better just knowing that you will be compensated for lost days at work by the Belize Social Security Board.

Carlton Mckoy, Administrator, Benefits, SSB

?We?ll pay you for the days that the doctor says that you need to stay home. So if you get five days off, we start paying you for the first day that you are off from work. So any day that you work you will not be paid. If after they five days you are still sick, then you?ll need to visit the doctor again and he needs to certify that you will be ill for x amount of days and then you submit that form here for us. You don?t need to go back to your employer to get salaries record.?

According to the SSB, copies of the necessary paperwork are available from health clinics throughout the country or from your employer.

Flu shots are available at most private institutions.

If you are unable to get a flu vaccination, doctors say there are simple steps you can take to lessen your chances of getting infected, like avoiding close contact with people who are sick, staying home if sick, covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, washing your hands regularly and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unsanitized hands.

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