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Residents urged to get flu shots

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More than 1,500 people were given a shot of the flu vaccine in just one week.

The Flu Express hit the streets in October, offering injections of flu vaccine at sites across the Island.

Now organisers have urged anyone who has not received their shot to make it part of their Christmas preparations.

“It was an overwhelming success,” Roxanne Kipps-Jackson, a health visitor and nurse with the Department of Health, told The Royal Gazette.

“It's gone from strength to strength,” added Lynn Jackson, the child health co-ordinator and expanded programme on immunisations manager. “The community participation since 2007 has increased significantly.”

The programme started in 2007. It offers people who pass a screening process the flu vaccine at designated sites across the Island from the comfort of their car. It has been so successful that the team is now looking for other locations that offer greater capacity, Ms Kipps-Jackson said.

According to Ms Jackson, 1,647 people were vaccinated during the Flu Express this year, with more people attending various clinics and doctors' offices that also offer the vaccine.

“Most people were very appreciative of the service,” said Ms Kipps-Jackson, who helped to co-ordinate the programme.

She added that people were particularly grateful to get the vaccine in a timely and convenient manner.

The flu shot protects against three strains of the influenza virus based on recommendations by the World Health Organisation and takes about two weeks to become fully effective.

Influenza is a highly contagious infection that is generally spread from person to person by coughs and sneezes. Outbreaks are most common in the winter and occur each year.

According to Ms Jackson and Ms Kipps-Jackson, the flu shot is especially important around the holidays when people travel.

“Travelling will certainly increase your chances of catching the flu,” Ms Kipps-Jackson said.

Ms Jackson said the vaccine was an effective way to prevent flu among children, adults, and the wider community.

“Take the opportunity to get your vaccine,” she urged. “Make it part of your Christmas preparation. The person who receives the vaccine is not the only beneficiary.”

It also protects family, friends, colleagues and the community because people are less likely to get ill and transmit the virus to others, she said.

Ms Kipps-Jackson also stressed the importance for infants, young children, the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions to get vaccinated because they are at a higher risk of developing complications if they catch the virus.

She said that in the case of children, immunisation could reduce the risk of them falling ill, as well as transmitting it to other children or bringing the virus home.

It also reduces the likelihood of having to take children out of school and adults having to miss work, she added.

Both women stressed the importance of not sending sick children to school and taking simple steps to avoid contracting the flu in the first place or spreading it.

Ms Kipps-Jackson said frequent hand-washing, “covering” coughs and sneezes, disposing of soiled tissues and avoiding crowded places could help to reduce the chances of contracting the virus.

Successful initiative: Lynn Jackson, the child health co-ordinator and expanded programme on immunisations manager, says the Flu Express programme has gone from strength to strength (File photograph by Nadia Hall)
Taking care: Judith Maynard receives a flu vaccine shot in October as part of the Flu Express programme (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published December 14, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated December 14, 2015 at 12:47 am)

Residents urged to get flu shots

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