Public Health says it is monitoring increase in respiratory illness
KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Public Health Department says it is monitoring an increase in respiratory illness and is, therefore, advising the public to take the necessary precautions to remain healthy during the winter season.
Health agencies note that the region in the Americas is currently experiencing increasing circulation of influenza together with COVID-19.
The Public Health Department is therefore encouraging vulnerable groups to get vaccinated against influenza as well as for everyone to protect themselves and others from infections.
“For persons wishing to get the flu vaccine this year, they may do so at district health centres from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm December 27-29 and on December 23 at Cost U Less 1:00pm-5:30pm and December 29 at Fosters (Republix) 5:00pm-9:00pm. In the New Year, the flu shot will be available at all district health centres Monday to Friday from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm,” a statement said on Friday, adding that the Covid-19 vaccines are currently not available on islands. The public will be informed when the vaccines become available.
Additionally, it said, “The Public Health Department will also continue to monitor the increased number of dengue cases locally and along with its partner, the Mosquito Research and Control Unit, continue to amplify surveillance for early detection, and appropriate response to the increase in numbers of dengue cases.”
As such, residents are encouraged to take personal responsibility in helping to mitigate the impact in the community by preventing and protecting against further spread of the mosquito-borne disease.
“It is important that we ensure our surroundings are clean and free of mosquito breeding sites. Everyone should take it upon themselves to empty, dispose of, or cover any receptacles or containers capable of storing even small amounts of water. This includes used tyres, water storage drums, flowerpots, and tanks, as these are ideal breeding sites for mosquitoes. Therefore, these key actions will help prevent mosquitoes breeding, thereby keeping yourself, your families and your community safe,” noted Therese Prehay, health promotion officer.
The statement added that in the coming weeks the Public Health Department will be working with communities to mobilise individuals helping to prevent mosquito breeding sites in and around homes.
“For further information, visit www.hsa.ky/public-health or contact the Public Health Department on 244-2621/ 244-2889. If you are high risk: individuals including infants and young children, people 65 years and older, pregnant people and people with certain underlying chronic conditions, vaccination is the best defence in the prevention of influenza and COVID-19,” the statement said.
However, the Public Health Department said people should also practise everyday preventive measures such as cough, hygiene, or etiquette that is covering your coughs and sneezes, staying away from individuals who are ill, and frequent hand washing or using alcohol gels. People may also choose to wear a well-fitting mask as an added precaution.
“Practise respiratory hygiene (cover mouth/nose when coughing/sneezing, use masks when appropriate, use tissues and dispose of them properly, wash/sanitise hands before/after touching mouth/nose),” it said.
Respiratory infections affect everyone in different ways. Symptoms may be minor, while another person may need immediate medical treatment. The common signs of respiratory infections include chest or nasal congestion, wet or dry cough, runny nose, fatigue, body aches, low-grade fever, and sore throat.