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Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says Jamaica received more than 23,000 doses of the flu vaccine last week, which are now being distributed across the island’s health regions.

Speaking at the Ministry’s Digital press conference and COVID-19 Conversation, at the S Hotel in Montego Bay, St. James, on October 29, Dr. Tufton informed that the vaccine will be available to high-risk groups, including children and the elderly, as well as healthcare and non-healthcare front-line workers.

“The priority will be healthcare workers; pregnant women; children over six months with chronic illnesses; non-health front-line workers, such as the police officers, army, correctional services, customs and immigration officers, transport operators; institutionalised persons; those in the infirmary, nursing homes and the elderly 65 years and older and those with chronic illnesses and, indeed, I would say elected officials who are on the ground in the communities interfacing with a wide cross section of the population,” he said.

For her part, Director of Family Health Services in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr. Melody Ennis, urged Jamaicans to get vaccinated against influenza during the 2020/2021 flu season, to prevent an overlapping of the flu and COVID-19.

Dr. Ennis stated that the flu season begins in November of each year and it extends to March, but noted that it can run a little longer, from October until May.

Dr. Ennis emphasised that it is important to receive the vaccine because during this time it will shorten the duration of any flu-like illnesses, the severity will be lessened, and the hospitalisation will be decreased.

She added that studies have suggested that getting a flu shot could reduce the effect of COVID-19.

“We should also be mindful that we can get the flu and COVID together and even if you get one it does not prevent you from getting the other. What has also been shown when we look at what occurred in the southern hemisphere for their winter season, is that persons who received the flu vaccine, actually if they got COVID, the impact of the illness was much less and they had fewer deaths in persons who had received the vaccine,” Dr. Ennis said.

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