Fast uptake on swine flu vaccine

More than 1,400 people in Cayman
have been vaccinated against H1N2 swine flu.

Ten thousand doses of the vaccine
arrived on island on 21 January and health officials say there has been a
steady uptake of the inoculation.

The vaccine will be available to
the public at the Agricultural Show on Ash Wednesday, 17 February, and is also
being offered at supermarkets and schools on selected days throughout the Island.

The vaccination provides immunity
to the H1N1 virus within 10 days of being administered.

There have been 129 confirmed cases
of swine flu in Cayman – 121 last year and eight so far this year, according to
Dr. Kiran Kumar, the Health Services Authority’s Medical Officer of Health.

However, those figures apply only to
infected individuals from whom samples have been taken and sent to Caribbean
Epidemiology Centre laboratory, known as CAREC, in Trinidad. Just a handful of
suspected cases are passed on to CAREC.

Doctors have been treating all flu
cases that involve temperatures higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38
degrees Celsius and with classic flu symptoms as H1N1.

Mr. Kumar said the number of other
flu-like illnesses, or acute respiratory tract infections, were dropping – from
a high of 176 cases seen in one week in November, to a little over 100 a week
this month. He said this was similar to 2008 levels, which he said was the norm
for December to March.

“They may vary between 80—100 per
week during this period. Possibly we can say the second peak was from mid November-to
mid-January,” he said.

In the first five weeks of this
year, there were 712 reported cases of flu, compared to 467 in the first five
weeks of 2009.

H1N1 flu vaccinations are available
on week days in the foyer of the Cayman Islands Hospital and also at its
dedicated flu clinic.