Healthcare Ministry: Vaccination and maintaining hygiene is the best protection against flu  



Kyiv, October 12, 2016. As the seasonal influenza and ARVI wave started, the Ministry of Healthcare of Ukraine recommends Ukrainians to vaccinate, maintain good hygiene and seek timely medical help in case of disease, said experts of the Ministry of Healthcare at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. “Vaccination is not obligatory, but we highly recommend all individuals should vaccinate, especially high-risk groups, such as children and senior citizens,” emphasized Oksana Syvak, deputy minister of health of Ukraine. She said that the vaccine significantly reduces exposure to disease and prevents complications in case of disease. “Vaccines have been registered and tested. One vaccine is available in drug stores – it’s Influvac. The other two, Vaxigrip and GC Flu, will appear not later than late October. Three virus strains will circulate – B, H3N2 та H1N1.

The ministry experts said three virus strains will circulate this season. “The first one is H3N2, Hong Kong subtype. It’s not new, but slightly modified, as influenza viruses change all the time. About 40% of population is immune to it, but it’s better to vaccinate. Moreover, rather aggressive H1N1 and В flu strains will circulate, causing the mildest forms of disease,” said Olha Holubovska, chief external infectious disease specialist of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine. Most likely, the dominating flu will not be the H1N1, as it dominated last year, and one strain never actively occurs several years in succession.   High-risk groups for the first two strains are children and senior citizens, and for the H1N1 these are patients with certain diseases.

Holubovska said that high-risk groups for the H3N2 and В flu are children and people over 60. The H1N1 is the most dangerous for obese people, people suffering from pancreatic diabetes, asthma and cardiovascular diseases, especially those taking acetylsalicylic acid-based medicine. “It’s important that these groups of patients should consider vaccination in the nearest future. If you haven’t vaccinated, seeking medical help in time is crucial. In time means in the first several hours after falling ill,” she emphasized. Early treatment is the most effective and helps prevent complications. Holubovska explained that the H1N1 might cause primary pneumonia, and the other two, in some cases – central and peripheral nervous system damage or bacterial complications (otitis and the like).
As of today there were no flu cases registered in any region, and epidemic threshold were not exceeded, informed Tetiana Dykhanovska, head of Ukrainian center of flu and ARVI of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine. “Even of the disease level is increased, it happened at the expense of ARVI,” she said. Over 153 thousand cases were registered on October 3-9, most of them among children.

“If you fell ill – stay home”

It is important not to disregard the first symptoms of flu or ARVI. “If you fell ill – please remain at home. It is good both for the patient and for the wider public to prevent the virus spreading. If you have fever, you must seek medical help,” said Syvak. “I would like to draw attention of doctors who provide first aid and emergency physicians: if you suspect it’s flu – and in any case flu displays clear clinical picture (…) and your patient belongs to the high-risk group, you need to follow these patients very carefully and take them to in-patient hospital in time, if necessary,” added Holubovska.