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Nov 1, 2011

Flu got you down? Then get vaccinated

Natalia Beer

The flu season started last month and so far a number of people have already contracted the virus. Today, the Ministry of Health issued a press release announcing the availability of free flu vaccines for the general public and at-risk groups. The vaccine, which is administered in the upper arm, is especially important at this time of the year. News Five spoke via phone with Dr. Natalia Beer of the Ministry Health, who says that getting the vaccine before flu-like symptoms appear is important.

Dr. Natalia Beer, Maternal & Child Care, Ministry of Health

“The seasonal flu vaccine is targeting groups at risk for complications caused by influenza, and these are children six to twenty three months old, adults sixty five years and older, healthcare providers, persons six months and older with cardiac or pulmonary disease, including asthma, chronic conditions such as diabetes, renal failure and HIV.”

Andrea Polanco

“Okay, so this group or people included in this group, if they are experiencing flu like symptoms, they should go in for the vaccine or even before?”

Dr. Natalia Beer

“No, we are recommending that even before having any signs or symptoms of illnesses similar to flu, they should get the vaccine.”

Andrea Polanco

“Okay and when this vaccine is administered, they will of course see mild side-effects. Can you discuss this with us?”

Dr. Natalia Beer

“Yes flu vaccines, just like any other common vaccines that we provide at the ministry of health, they have some side effects and these can include fever, irritation and pain at the site of injection. And these are some of the most common side effects when applying this vaccine or any other type of vaccine.”

Andrea Polanco

“So I know the vaccines will be available at different health centers around the country and free of cost?”

Dr. Natalia Beer

“Yes, the vaccines are provided at all public health centers and mobile clinics throughout the country and there is no direct payment from the population benefitting from this service.”

Andrea Polanco

“Dr. Natalia, up to what time period will the flu vaccines be free of cost for the public?”

Dr. Natalia Beer

“Well we just recently got it in country and the season flu runs from October to March, so the earlier the best, because the objective is to develop the immune system against these strains, the flu vaccines that when people get in contact with these strains that cause flu then they already have the mechanism defense build up in the body nuh, in the form of anti-bodies.”

The Ministry of Health advises that if you were vaccinated last year, it is time to get vaccinated again.

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