Health Ministry urges public to get flu shot

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The Ministry of Health has advised the public, regardless of age or condition, to contact their GP for a free flu vaccine to reduce pressure on the healthcare system.

It stressed that flu vaccines are safe and effective, while side effects are relatively rare and mild.

According to the ministry’s influenza surveillance system, the occurrence of flu in Cyprus usually begins with a small percentage of cases at the end of Autumn and peaks in January-February.

The Health Ministry said that, in the current period, due to lower exposure to the influenza virus because of measures against the COVID-19 pandemic, the public is more vulnerable.

Influenza activity continues to increase across Europe, with earlier seasonal activity than before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ministry explained that influenza is a highly contagious viral infection that can cause mild to severe illness.

Most healthy people get over the flu without complications.

However, the elderly, young children and people with underlying conditions are more likely to develop severe disease with a greater risk of complications.

“Inoculation with the influenza vaccine is particularly important for those in high-risk groups such as people over the age of 65.”

Also, people with chronic health problems (asthma, lung diseases, heart diseases, immunosuppression, organ transplantation, sickle cell disease, diabetes mellitus, morbid obesity, chronic kidney and liver disease, neuromuscular or neurological diseases), pregnant women and those taking aspirin long-term.

It is recommended for children over six months to 15, workers in healthcare facilities, caregivers of people with an underlying illness, working or residing in community quarters such as staff and students at boarding schools, military and police academies, inmates and staff of other facilities and the armed forces.

Professionals such as veterinarians, poultry farmers, pig farmers, butchers and people who encounter birds are also recommended to get a flu shot.

If people are not beneficiaries of the General Health System (GHS), they may contact the Health Ministry’s Adult Vaccination Centres or the Maternity Protection and Child Welfare Centres.