As we enter the festive period, its less merry cousin – flu season – is also right around the corner.
Cayman’s Public Health Department was encouraging everyone on Monday (5 November), from visitors to residents, to get vaccinated against flu.
And it won’t cost you a thing.
The Public Health Department said they usually see around 115 cases of flu every week, but now we are entering flu season, which peaks around December/January time, they do expect that number to rise.
The virus can prove fatal, which is why they are encouraging everyone to get vaccinated.
Nurse Manager of Primary Healthcare Services Joanna Rose-Wright said getting the flu shot was about more than just protecting yourself.
“Prevention is better than cure,” she said, adding: “it is quite important to take the vaccines instead of being absent from work for several days because of getting the flu, or passing it on to someone else.”
Everyone older than 6 months is advised to get vaccinated, but some groups are especially at risk.
Director of Primary Health Care Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez clarified: “The group between 6 months – 5 years, especially under 2 years, are at higher risk, pregnant women are at higher risk, persons over 60 years old, persons with chronic conditions.”
The flu vaccine works by introducing a small dose of the virus into the body, which causes the immune system to produce antibodies. Those will protect you from contracting a full-blown version of the virus.
But just because you got the shot last year, it does not mean you are safe this year.
“Viruses tend to mutate and change quite rapidly, so every season the vaccine changes to adapt to the new type of virus that might be circulating. So the vaccine will offer protection only for a year,” Dr. Williams-Rodriguez explained.
The vaccine also will not protect you from catching a cold. But how can you tell if you have the common cold or the more serious influenza virus?
“The main difference between a cold and the flu is persons with flu will get a fever and body aches, generalised body aches. With a cold usually, there is not a fever,” Ms. Rose-Wright explained.
So next time you claim to have “man flu,” remember the symptoms will give you away.
You can get the flu vaccine at the Cayman Islands Hospital, District Health Centres in Grand Cayman, Faith Hospital Cayman Brac and Little Cayman Clinic.
Employers who have 20 interested employees can contact the Public Health Department for onsite workplace vaccination.