Vaccination is the most effective way to protect yourself against the flu and its complications. These are the words of Dr Fazil Khodabocus, Senior Community Physician at the Ministry of Health. According to him, it can also help reduce the number of hospitalizations and the risk of death.
As the winter season approaches, the Ministry of Health has launched its flu vaccination campaign. Since Friday April 12, it is possible to be vaccinated in the five regional hospitals, Mediclinics and Area Health Center according to the program set up by the ministry. “The vaccine, which is effective two weeks after being inoculated, protects against the AH1N1, H3N2 and B viruses. It is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the southern hemisphere”, he emphasizes .
This vaccination campaign of the Ministry of Health against influenza is open to the general public, aged from 6 months. But people at high risk are more particularly targeted: young children (6 months to 5 years), pregnant women, the elderly (65+) and all those suffering from a chronic disease (diabetes, hypertension, renal failure, cardiovascular disease) or cancer, HIV, tuberculosis or respiratory disease.
Getting vaccinated is important not only to protect yourself but also to protect those around you, emphasizes Dr. Khodabocus. He specifies that it is recommended to be vaccinated at the beginning of the winter season, because the vaccine takes about ten days before acting. And to add that the vaccine also makes it possible to avoid the complications related to this disease.
The flu is highly contagious and is spread by droplets in the air or by touching a contaminated surface either at home, in the office or on public transport, adds the doctor. He therefore recommends covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze with a tissue that will then go into a covered trash can. “It is important to wash your hands with soap and water afterwards,” he adds.
Coupled with vaccination, the doctor also recommends a healthy and balanced diet with five fruits and vegetables per day, the practice of physical activity and at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night. “You have to vary the fruits and vegetables, in order to have a good supply of vitamins and particularly vitamin C, in order to boost the immune system,” he explains. And this does not apply only during the winter season but throughout the year because, Mauritius being a tropical country, the influenza virus is constantly circulating.
Symptoms of the flu are fever, a dry cough, sore throat and body aches. The Senior Community Physician emphasizes that it is imperative to consult a doctor at the onset of these symptoms, in order to take the appropriate treatments and not to self-medicate. Rest is also recommended not only to promote rapid recovery, but also to avoid contaminating those around you.
“The flu can cause complications. It should therefore not be trivialized, ”adds Dr Khodabocus. Referring to WHO data, he argues that influenza is responsible for 290,000 to 650,000 deaths each year worldwide. Maurice is not spared, he points out, and that regardless of the flu contracted: AH1N1, AH3N2 or B, he said. People at high risk can get ear infections, sinusitis, bronchitis or pneumonia which can be fatal.
In the event of the flu, it is very important to consume enough water, in order to avoid dehydration, adds the doctor. In this period of heavy rains, he reminds us that the water must be boiled before consuming it.
Vaccination for the public is available daily in regional hospitals from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturday. Regarding the other health centers, a calendar has been established by the ministry concerned. This vaccination campaign is open to the general public.
As for the vaccination campaign for the elderly and residents of retirement homes, it will begin shortly.