Free flu shots available at hospitals, health centers

Starting this week, all residents can get flu vaccines for free at the Cayman Islands Hospital.

The flu jabs will also be available at the district health centers and on the Sister Islands from Wednesday, Oct. 21. Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez, acting director of primary healthcare for the Health Services Authority, said in a press statement that this year’s flu vaccine will also protect against the 2009 pandemic flu H1N1.

“We recommend that people get vaccinated as soon as possible and definitely before the peak of the flu season, which ranges between December and January,” he said.

The flu vaccine is only effective for one season as the flu strains tend to vary from year to year. Dr. Williams-Rodriguez said anyone over 6 months old should get the vaccine, especially people at high risk for complications from the flu, and anyone who lives with or cares for them.

People considered at high risk for complications include children 6 months to four years old, pregnant woman, people over 50, anyone with an already weakened immune system, and people living in long-term care, like nursing homes.

Children 6 months to 8 years old and getting vaccinated for the first time will need a second injection four weeks later for the vaccine to be effective. For everyone else, the vaccine takes about two weeks to protect someone from the flu.

Dr. Williams-Rodriguez said the Public Health Department will continue its workplace vaccination program for employers with 20 or more workers on site. Off-duty staff and retired nurses will do the early workplace visits for a $200 fee, or companies can elect to wait for an HSA employee to do the workplace vaccines for free, but those likely will not happen until late November or December.

The flu shots are available, with no appointment necessary, at the Cayman Islands Hospital Atrium weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon until Oct. 28. From Oct. 21, they will be available at the general practice clinic at the hospital, at Faith Hospital on Cayman Brac and at all district health centers. Little Cayman residents should call their district health clinic on 948-0114 to make an appointment to get the vaccine.

Vaccines will also be available on Oct. 29-31 at the CayShop 2015 event at the Arts and Recreation Centre at Camana Bay.

For more information, call the Public Health Department on 244-2621.