Port of Spain, February 03, 2010: The Ministry of Health urges all citizens, especially persons within high risk groups, to protect their health and their family’s well being this carnival by getting vaccinated against the Pandemic Influenza A / H1N1 2009 virus.  Influenza vaccines are one of the most effective ways to protect a person from contracting illness during influenza epidemics and pandemics.  Citizens are reminded that carnival is 2 weeks away and the influenza vaccine only becomes effective about 7 days after vaccination.

High risk groups

Persons with a history of chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma;
Persons with Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases, including diabetes, obesity and other chronic conditions;
Persons with immuno-compromised conditions;
Pregnant women;
Children 6 months to 5 years of age
Persons within these high risk groups are advised to visit the health centre which serves their community for the H1N1 Vaccination.  Vaccines are also available in the private health sector and persons should seek the guidance of their doctor. 

Persons who should NOT get the pandemic H1N1 vaccine

As a general rule, persons with any of the following medical conditions should not receive the H1N1 vaccine:

People with a history of anaphylaxis (or hypersensitive reactions), or other life-threatening allergic reactions to any of the constituents or trace residues of the vaccine;
People with history of a severe reaction to previous influenza vaccination;
People who have severe (life threatening) allergy to chicken eggs
People who have developed Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine;
Children less than 6 months of age (inactivated influenza vaccine is not approved for this age group);
People who have a moderate-to-severe illness with a fever (they should wait until they recover to get vaccinated). 
Hygiene tips to keep healthy

Citizens are reminded to practice good hygiene to protect themselves and others from acquiring the influenza virus.  Persons must cover their nose and mouth while coughing or sneezing, dispose of all used tissue and wash their hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing.  People with symptoms of flu-like illness should stay at home for 7 – 10 days or until at least 24 hours after they are free of fever, whichever is longer.

Citizens are advised to seek official information from Ministry of Health through its website http://www.health.gov.tt/ and the Ministry’s hot line, 800-WELL (9355). A comprehensive list of Frequently Asked Questions has been made available to the public since Sunday, November 29th, 2009 and all persons are encouraged to review it and contact the Ministry if there are any clarifications needed.