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Jamaicans are being urged to take precautions against the Influenza (flu) virus.
National Epidemiologist (Acting), Dr. Ardene Harris, in making the call, said that since the start of the flu season in October, there has been an increase in hospital admissions for acute respiratory infections among children aged six months to four years old.
The flu season will continue until March 2023.
Dr. Harris, who was speaking at the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ end-of-year press conference on Thursday (December 15), said that despite the increase in hospitalisations, the volume of admissions “remains within normal limits”.
She indicated that the cases requiring admissions are primarily those confirmed for pneumonia. Cases of Influenza A-N1N1 and H3N2 as well as the Respiratory Syncytial Virus were also confirmed.
“For persons presenting with respiratory symptoms [who] might not require admission, we are [also] seeing an increase, but it’s within normal limits both for the under-five to 59-year-old and the over 60-year-old,” she pointed out.
Dr. Harris is imploring citizens to take the necessary steps to keep themselves safe.
“Continue [using] the preventative measures that we use for the COVID-19 virus [such as] wearing masks properly, practising proper cough etiquette, washing of hands, and proper hygiene,” she advised.
“We know that we have the COVID-19 vaccine [and] the Influenza vaccine that’s available. We are in the flu season, so we are encouraging all the eligible population to avail themselves of these vaccines,” she added.
Dr. Harris said that vaccines are critical to protecting the vulnerable population, which includes the elderly, pregnant women and healthcare workers.