Flu Prevention in Roatan
Brigades Target Elderly and Infants

January 1st, 2010
by Jennifer Mathews

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Nurse Carolina Nuñez administers a flu shot to Mercedez Lopez in Col. Policarpo Galindo.

Nurse Carolina Nuñez administers a flu shot to Mercedez Lopez in Col. Policarpo Galindo.

The fourth campaign for flu prevention by the Honduras Secretaria de Salud sent brigades throughout Honduras on December 7-18. In the Bay Islands, a group of 30 nurses, teachers, and health administrators in five brigades visited the local communities in Utila, Roatan, and Guanaja. The brigades provided free flu vaccinations for those 60 years of age and older, private or public health care workers, infants from six to 35 months of age, and feed handlers for farmlands, especially any of the above with a history of respiratory illness. Cayos Cuchinos was not included in the plan for transportation reasons.

The program was set to be implemented in November as in the past three campaigns to combat higher incidents of flu during the rainy season, but political and economic situations delayed the program until December.

During the 2009 Bay Islands campaign, approximately 3,000 people were expected to be vaccinated, versus the 2,400 people who were treated in 2008. While the 2009 campaign only targeted common flu strains, inoculations for H1N1 will be included in 2010.

The program operated under strict hygienic rules. Syringes were transported in coolers with ice packs. Used syringes were discarded into a biohazard box and later electrically incinerated.

The nationwide campaign cost Lps. 43,534,162 ($2,304,614.19), 97% of which utilized central government funds, and the remaining 3% were provided in cooperation with USAID, OPS, and UNICEF.

The program was advertised before arriving into the barrios through local radio and TV, and through announcements from speakers on cars and motorcycles. “Some refuse the shot, but through education, the program is getting more accepted,” said Roatan director Maribel Bejarano de Figueroa. During visits, the staff also educates the community on basic hygiene, such as the importance of washing one’s hands. The brigades also collect information on each person inoculated, much like a census. [/private]

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