Health Department urges the public to get the flu vaccine in anticipation of the upcoming influenza season

The public is urged to take extra precautionary measures to protect themselves against respiratory infections which are expected to increase over the winter season. 

According to the Department of Health, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is currently at peak circulation in the country, while influenza virus infections are starting to increase.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases has a surveillance system which monitors the circulation of respiratory viruses throughout the country and has notified the department that it is currently the peak season of RSV.

The RSV virus causes illness mainly in young children but also contributes to respiratory illness in older individuals. Influenza virus season usually follows RSV, and there is an increase in cases. 

The influenza season is expected to start in the next few weeks and it is advisable for people especially those at high risk of severe influenza to get the vaccine to prevent severe health complications in case they contract this virus,” reads a statement.

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The vaccine is available in public clinics free of charge (on first come-first serve basis) to people falling into the above-mentioned risk groups. The vaccine can also be purchased in the private sector at several pharmacies for other people who fall in the high-risk groups as well as for those who do not fall into one of the risk groups, but who would like to protect themselves from influenza. 

Some of the common symptoms of this respiratory virus, influenza, include, but are not limited to runny nose, decrease in appetite, coughing, sneezing, fever, and wheezing.

Parents and caregivers are urged to take their children who experience difficulties with breathing, not drinking enough fluids and experience deteriorating symptoms to the nearest health facility or healthcare providers for medical attention without delay. 

People infected with influenza are usually contagious for three to eight days. Preventative measures such as wearing of masks and social distancing are recommended for especially for those who are ill.

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