Deyalsingh: Influenza drive to be intensified

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh speaks to members of the media at the San Fernando General hospital on Tuesday. – Photo by Jeff K. Mayers

EFFORTS to better protect the population from the Influenza A and B viruses will be intensified in the new year.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh made this disclosure to the media during a visit to the San Fernando General Hospital on Tuesday.

He reiterated that the new covid19 subvariant, GN1, which has emerged in the US, does not pose a threat to TT at this time.

“One, we have not detected it as yet. Two, the science so far says it is not leading to any greater need for hospital space, mortality rates and so on. It is a concern in the northern hemisphere because it is winter time now. “

But he said, “What we are more concerned about is Influenza A and Influenza B which we have vaccines for.”

He said to date, 20,000 of those vaccines have been administered to members of the public.

“We plan to ramp up that drive right after Christmas and New Year’s into Carnival.”

Deyalsingh said Influenza A “is the one that most likely could lead to pandemics.”

He hinted that vaccinations for Influenza A and Influenza B could take place in public spaces such as shopping malls similar to covid19 vaccinations during the covid19 pandemic.

“We did that in the month of November and we did a lot of that.”

Deyalsingh reminded the public that these viruses are endemic.

“It is here. Has always been here but it surges at certain times of the year.”

He added the objective with influenza vaccination is to prevent viral surges leading to large numbers of people requiring hospitalisation and putting strain on the public health care system.

What is Influenza A and B

Influenza A and B viruses cause seasonal epidemics of disease in people in what is known as flu season.

A pandemic can occur when a new and different influenza A virus emerges that infects people, has the ability to spread efficiently among people, and against which people have little or no immunity.

Influenza A infections is more serious than the common cold. They can cause major outbreaks and severe disease.

Influenza A symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and/or fatigue.

Influenza B can cause people to experience symptoms more severe than a common cold. In some cases, this infection resolves without the need for medical attention.

Influenza B symptoms include cough, fatigue, gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children), headaches, muscle or body aches, runny nose and sore throat.