The 2020/2021 influenza season gets underway inOctober, senior officials at PAHO/WHO are advising the public to protect themselves from the risk of contracting COVID-19 and the flu at the same time.
PAHO/WHO Representative, Dr. Erica Wheeler, warned that dual infections could severely compromise a person’s respiratory system.
“It actually would make the situation of anyone having COVID-19 worse if they were to both have the flu as well as COVID-19,” said Dr. Wheeler. “It weakens the lungs and it will make it easier for the virus, COVID-19, to affect your lungs more seriously. So, it is a protective factor to get the flu vaccine.”
She recalled that influenza killed thousands of people in the United States last year.
Between October 2019 and May 2020, there were 40 flu-related deaths in Trinidad and Tobago.
Advisor for Disease Surveillance and Epidemiology at PAHO/WHO, Dr. Eldonna Boisson, emphasised the value of getting immunized against one of the two virusescurrently circulating in the population.
Dr. Wheeler and Dr. Boisson made their appeals during a flu vaccination drive for members of staff at PAHO/WHO, staff from partner UN agencies and their relatives.Approximately 60 flu vaccines were administered by officials from the Ministry of Health at PAHO/WHO’s headquarters on Sweet Briar Road in St. Clair.
Dr. Boisson also allayed concerns about the safety of the flu vaccine, assuring members of the public that itprovides effective protection against influenza.
She said now is the opportune time for people to get vaccinated at their local health centre, since it takes approximately two weeks for the immune system to develop antibodies.