Number of flu cases is up

The Public Health Department is reporting a slight increase in reported cases of upper respiratory conditions – coughs and colds on Cayman.

Director of Public Health Dr. Kiran Kumar said 138 persons were treated for respiratory conditions last week compared to 70 to 80 patients seen per week in the hospital and district clinics with coughs and colds.

To combat the spike, the Public Health Department is advising residents that additional quantities of flu shots are still available at HSA facilities across the Cayman Islands. Flu shots are free and are available at the General Practice Clinic at the Cayman Islands Hospital, Faith Hospital in Cayman Brac and all District Health Centers, from 2 pm to 4 pm Monday through Friday.

Flu shots are also available at the Little Cayman Clinic. Residents of Little Cayman should contact the clinic to make arrangements.

Most people need only one dose, M. Kumar said, however children younger than nine who are getting the vaccine for the first time will need two doses. These are to be given at least four weeks apart.

He noted that flu shots taken at this time will not protect in the next season.

M. Kumar warned that some people may experience side effects from the vaccine. The most common reactions to the flu vaccine are soreness and redness at the site of the injection, body pain and headache. Panadol or similar medications will relieve the symptoms. Before being vaccinated, it is recommended that persons become familiar with information about the vaccine, which is available at all the vaccination sites.

While encouraging individuals to get their flu shots, M. Kumar is also advising residents to take precautions to prevent the spread of the flu by taking simple actions that include:

  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick;
  • Covering your mouth and nose when you are coughing or sneezing;
  • If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper arm, not your hands;
  • Washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth;
  • Rest, drink plenty of liquids, and avoid alcohol and tobacco.