The Preventive Health Department (PHD) is making preparations to receive its first batch of pandemic influenza A (H1N1) vaccine which will first be administered to the high risk groups. It has been proposed by the Dutch Health Council and the Royal Institute for Public Health & the Environment that persons receive two A (H1N1) vaccinations.
According to guidelines from the Netherlands Antilles Influenza A (H1N1) Protocol, all pregnant women who are in the last six months of pregnancy or second trimester – from their fourth month onwards – will be called to be vaccinated.
From available international medical data there is consistent evidence that pregnant women are at increased risk for complications as a consequence of the pandemic influenza A (H1N1), even in the absence of known risk factors.
Vaccination in the first three months of pregnancy is discouraged because there is not sufficient data and on theoretical grounds a risk for the child cannot be ruled out.
Other persons who form part of the risk group:
with pulmonary disease: asthma (when maintenance medication is given; this also holds true for children), COPD, carcinoma of the lung, anthracosilicosis, lungfibrosis , mucoviscidosis, severe kyfoscoliosis, status after resection of a lung, breathing difficulties;
with cardiac disease: having experienced a myocardial infarction, angina pectoris, arrhythmias, valve dysfunction, cardiac failure;
with diabetes mellitus, even if not on medication;
with chronic kidney disease/failure: dialysis, kidney transplant;
after a recent bone marrow transplant;
with an intellectual disability in an intramural setting;
with a diminished resistance to infections: livercirrosis, (functional) asplenia, auto-immune illnesses, chemotherapy, immunosuppressive medication;
60 years and older.
Front-line workers will be vaccinated against pandemic influenza A H1N1 virus as well as health care workers who may be in contact with patients pertaining to the medical risk groups (personnel in nursing homes, senior citizen home, hospital, outpatient clinics and general practitioner/specialist practices).
Home care givers of people with a very high risk for severe illness and mortality due to this flu will also be vaccinated.
Besides vaccination against pandemic influenza A (H1N1), vaccination against seasonal flu remains important. People, who would normally take their yearly seasonal flu shots, should still get their seasonal flu shot.
Members of the community are still strongly advised to maintain high standards of personal hygiene which entail covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough, and washing your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after contact with respiratory secretions (e.g., after sneezing and coughing).
Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way. Try to avoid contact with sick people.
The symptoms of pandemic influenza A (H1N1) flu virus in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with the virus.
Persons who have flu-like-illness should remain at home and contact their family physician via telephone who will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed.
Persons who have traveled in the preceding seven days to affected countries should seek immediate medical attention once they develop influenza-like symptoms. You are advised to stay at home and contact your family physician. This will help minimize the risk of infecting those around them, especially people who are at a higher risk of severe illness and complications of influenza.
Members of the public are advised to exercise caution over travel to affected areas. In the event that travel is unavoidable, the public is advised to take precautionary measures such as avoiding crowded areas and maintaining high standards of personal hygiene at all times. Another preventive measure is eating healthy foods, getting a lot of exercise and maintaining an eight hour sleep schedule.