As flu season approaches, the V.I. Health Department is urging residents to prioritize their well-being by getting vaccinated against the flu virus, especially the elderly and young children who are the most susceptible to severe flu-related complications, the department announced.
“Flu season typically peaks during the fall and winter months, and the consequences of the virus can be severe,” said V.I. Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion. “The elderly, with weakened immune systems, and young children, whose immune systems are still developing, face an increased risk of complications if infected with the flu. The flu vaccine as a crucial preventive measure. It prevents the spread of the flu virus and reduces the severity of symptoms if one does contract the flu.”
The DOH encourages everyone to consult with their healthcare providers about the flu vaccine and to make it a priority in their healthcare routine, according to the press release.
Encarnacion also noted that, with the official start of the season just days away and flu cases nationwide slowly rising, many residents are growing concerned with the possibility of a flu pandemic.
“Although we are already seeing cases of influenza here in the Territory, our numbers are very low compared to the same time last year,” Encarnacion said. “Our local physicians have reported a total of 14 influenza cases between October and November 20 – 11 on St. Thomas, two on St. Croix and one on St. John. This is compared to 39 cases for the same period in 2022 – 18 on St. Croix, 17 on St. Thomas and four on St. John. At this point, there is no flu pandemic.”
In addition to promoting flu vaccination, the DOH is working to increase awareness about other preventive measures, such as practicing good handwashing hygiene, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when feeling unwell. These actions, combined with widespread vaccination, can help create a protective shield within the community and reduce the overall impact of the flu, the press release stated.
“Getting vaccinated against the flu is not only a personal health choice but also a community responsibility,” Encarnacion said. “By taking the simple step of getting a flu shot, you contribute to the overall well-being of our community by protecting those who are most at risk.”
To support this effort, the Health Department’s Community Health clinics continue to provide convenient access to the flu vaccine at no cost, the release stated.
The flu vaccine is available on St. Croix from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday, at the Health Department clinics located on the second floor of #35 Castle Coakley Unit 5, known as the Old Caribe Home Center Building. No appointment is necessary, it said.
On St. Thomas, for adults, vaccinations are available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday to Thursday, at the Community Health Clinic located at the Schneider Regional Medical Center. Vaccinations are available for children at the Maternal Child Health Clinic. Call 340-777-8804 ext. 2600 to make an appointment, according to the release.
St. John Outreach Event to Offer Free Flu and Updated COVID Vaccines to Adults
As part of the Morris De Castro Clinic community engagement series, the Community Health Division on St. John will offer the flu vaccine free to all adults 18 years and older, according to the release.
The St. John division is also offering the updated COVID vaccine, for the first time, free to St. John residents 18 years and older who are uninsured and under-insured, it said.
The outreach event is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday at the Morris De Castro Clinic in Cruz Bay, St. John, it said.
The DOH is not yet offering the updated COVID-19 vaccine to the insured population. Insured individuals are encouraged to speak to their private provider about getting the updated COVID-19 vaccine, the release stated.