People urged to get flu jab

Francisco George (pictured), the General Director for Health, has warned people to get vaccinated in readiness for a possible flu epidemic in Portugal.

The aggressiveness of some types of flu has already led to the hospitalisation of two people recently.

There are three strains of influenza that can be avoided by vaccination, he said.

“In the first week of January, four cases of influenza were confirmed at the National Health Institute Doutor Ricardo Jorge (INSA). At the moment, two people are hospitalised and one is in the intensive care unit. This may indicate the onset of flu epidemic activity in Portugal, similar to what is happening in other countries in the northern hemisphere, “ he added.

Francisco George drew special attention to risk groups such as the elderly and children and pointed out that the circulating strains are those that are included in the seasonal vaccine: the AH1, AH3 and the Type B.

“Influenza is unpredictable and there is no scientific basis to predict or anticipate what might happen,” he said.

Graça Freitas, the Deputy General Director for Health, states that Portugal can also experience an intense influenza activity and some severe cases.”

In the United States, the New York State has become the latest US region to declare a health emergency due to a flu epidemic which has already affected more than 19 thousand people .

Asked by Lusa news agency about the possibility of a similar outbreak in Portugal, Francisco George stressed that it is too soon to tell if a flu epidemic activity is going to be intense or moderate in Portugal.