The 2019-2020 flu season is well underway nationally and territorially. The Virgin Islands Department of Health (VIDOH) encourages all Virgin Islanders to get a flu shot this season. Residents should get the flu vaccine to protect against illness and help prevent the spread of the seasonal flu to others. It has never been easier, and it’s never too late to get a flu shot.
“I would like to remind our community that our influenza season usually follows a delayed onset compared to the continental USA; however, this year we have observed an early increase of cases,” said territorial infectious disease specialist Dr. Tai Hunte-Ceasar. “Everyone must take the flu seriously and protect themselves and others by ensuring that all eligible family members are vaccinated.”
Getting the shot can reduce flu illnesses, doctor visits, missed work and school, as well as prevent flu-related hospitalizations. Receiving a flu vaccination when healthy helps to prevent the illness in the most vulnerable populations as well. People at higher risk for flu-related complications include children ages newborn to 5, adults over the age of 65, pregnant women and people who have existing medical conditions such as asthma.
The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone six months old and older, including pregnant women. It takes about two weeks after the vaccination for your body to develop protection against the flu. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people get injectable flu shots.
It is also essential to practice good hygiene by properly and frequently washing one’s hands to help prevent the spread of the seasonal flu. Make it a habit to clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces in the home, school or office. People can take additional steps to ward off the flu by coughing or sneezing into a tissue or elbow and avoiding touching their face.
Check with a physician or VIDOH’s Maternal Child Health Clinics for children’s vaccines and the Community Health Clinics for adults. To contact DOH Community Health Clinics, call 340-718-1311 ext. 3895 (St. Croix) or 340-774-7477 (St. Thomas).
For more information about the V.I. Department of Health, visit www.doh.vi.gov.