Flu Vaccines to be Administered Early in Response to US Outbreak
High incidences of influenza in the United States have prompted Chile’s Ministry of Health to move its vaccination campaign forward to March 16.
SANTIAGO – It’s currently the peak of flu season in the United States, with 48 states reporting widespread flu infections last week.
As a result, while flu vaccination in Chile normally occurs between late March and May, Health Minister Jaime Mañalich has announced that the vaccination campaign will be advanced by several weeks.
The Minister is optimistic that with the vaccination program, Chile will be able to cope next flu season, as vaccines against the current H3N2 virus have been successful in the past two years.
Chile’s geography can also be a weapon against diseases such as the flu, the Minister told La Tercera.
“We have a huge desert to the north and a mountain range that is very difficult to cross. This allows us to delay the arrival of diseases and take preventative measures that, in general, work,” he said.
“Although the flu vaccine is far from perfect, it’s by far the best tool we have to prevent influenza,” he said.
Frieden also said that if influenza develops, it is important to use antiviral drugs within 48 hours of symptoms appearing, as they “can reduce symptoms, shorten the duration of illness and prevent serious complications including hospitalization and death.”
The flu outbreak in the United States has particularly affected the elderly and young children, and 29 children have died from complications related to the flu so far in this U.S. season.