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Ministry warns: Get flu vaccine
Visit the nearest health facility or doctor to get the influenza (flu) vaccine ahead of the upcoming flu season. This advice came yesterday in a press release from the Ministry of Health. The statement advised that during the season people who were at increased risk of developing serious complications like pneumonia from the flu virus should safeguard themselves by getting the vaccine.
It added: “Influenza viruses change over time and each year the vaccine is updated to include the viruses that are most likely to circulate in the upcoming influenza season. “The best way to prevent contracting influenza is to get a yearly flu vaccine.” The list of high-risk individuals provided by the ministry included:
• Pregnant women;
• Children six months to five years of age;
• People with respiratory complications like asthma and chronic lung disease;
• People with immuno-compromised conditions;
• People with chronic non-communicable diseases, including diabetes;
• People 65 years and older;
• People who live with or care for others who are high risk for developing serious complications from the influenza virus.
The ministry also reminded citizens to practise good personal hygiene to protect themselves and others from acquiring the flu virus. Regular hand-washing is important for your own protection and that of others. The main way flu viruses are spread is through droplets released into the air from the coughs and sneezes of an infected person. This can happen when droplets are inhaled directly by people nearby.
Some droplets containing the virus also fall on hard surfaces, like desks, tables, phones and door knobs. People pick up the virus when they touch these surfaces and then touch their eyes, mouth or nose. Another common method of infection is by shaking hands with someone who has not maintained proper respiratory and hand hygiene and failing to wash your own hands before touching your face.
Those infected can spread the flu virus from one day before symptoms develop and up to seven days after symptoms appear. Children, especially younger children, can be contagious for much longer periods (ten–14 days).
The ministry suggested these measures for people who contract the flu:
• Wash hands often with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser containing at least 70 per cent alcohol, especially after coughing or sneezing.
• Show children how to wash their hands properly and practise it with them.
n Avoid close contact (hugging, shaking hands, etc) with persons who show symptoms of influenza.
• Keep hands away from the eyes, mouth and nose. Germs can be spread or enter the body this way.
• Persons should cover their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, or cough into their sleeve or elbow if they don’t have a tissue handy, throw the tissue in a bin after use and wash their hands with soap and water again
• People with symptoms of flu-like illness should stay at home for seven to ten days or until at least 24 hours after all symptoms have ended, whichever is longer.
• Get plenty of rest.
• Drink clear fluids to keep hydrated.
• Monitor symptoms: Check for emergency warning signs and seek medical attention if symptoms worsen.
Symptoms of the influenza virus include:
• Sudden high fever (over 38°C or 100°F)
• Sore throat
• Runny or stuffy nose
• Body aches
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