H1N1 Soars In 1st Week Of Feb With 194 Cases
Written by Rasidah H A B Tuesday, 09 February 2010 06:30
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A student gets her H1N1 jab. The Ministry of Health began administering
H1N1 vaccines to students yesterday at a vaccine injection centre, Indoor Stadium.
Picture:Br/Rudolf Portilk

Bandar Seri Begawan - A Total of 194 new Influenza A (H1N1) cases were recorded for the first week of this month. 150 more than the infections for all of January, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said yesterday.

Last month, the ministry recorded 44 H1N1 positive cases.

The MoH predicted a likely increase of Influenza A cases early this year. It did not elaborate on the possible reasons.

Likewise, no information about the areas where the new cases came from was available at press time. The ministry did not mention whether the cases were concentrated in a few areas.

To prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus, the MoH yesterday started the mass vaccination programme for schools.

Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan Science College was the first school to begin the mass vaccination with 500 students immunised.
Another 500 students are expected to come in for their jabs today.

The Brunei Times contacted the Department of Schools, but no confirmation was available on the schedule of the vaccination programme for the four districts.

In an interview with The Brunei Times, Pg Dr Khalifah Pg Hj Ismail, director of environmental health at the ministry, said "we are not sure how many schools will be involved nationwide. Discussion is currently ongoing with the Department of Schools, Ministry of Education regarding this matter".

Pg Dr Khalifah estimated that more than 20,000 secondary school students in the Brunei-Muara District will be vaccinated.

He added that the mass vaccination for students programme will be extended to all districts, but he was unable to confirm the date when the immunisations would start in each of the district.

"The programme will cover all schools nationwide. However, the dates of commencement probably differ. We are already making arrangements with the Department of Schools," he said.

He added the vaccinations would continue until March, and most probably extend until May.

The mass vaccination currently focuses on secondary school students, and would eventually extend to all educational institutions including kindergarten and primary schools.

We focus on secondary schools first, as we consider that primary school students may prefer to be accompanied by their parents," he said.

Parents also need to give their consent in order for their children to be vaccinated, said Pg Dr Khalifah. it is up to the parents, we cannot force students to be vaccinated but we encourage vaccinations as the number of H1N1 cases had increased over the past few weeks. The infection is still here. Rather than missing one week of school, it is better to get vaccinated," he added.

The vaccination procedure for the students is the same for adults, except that parents have to sign the consent form allowing their children to be vaccinated, Pg Dr Khalifah said.

"The students also undergo counseling before the injections ... we convey information on what to expect from the vaccination, its side effects and measures that one can be taken to reduce the soreness," he added. He said,"Like any other vaccination, after the injections, you can go about with your daily routine. It is also safe to take one's medication after the vaccination."

The ministry has set up several vaccination centres nationwide including Indoor Stadium of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex in Berakas, Jubli Perak Health Centre in Sengkurong, the Vaccination Centre at the Ong Sum Ping Health Centre in the capital, and the Berakas "A" Health Centre in Anggerek Des% Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (Ripas) Hospital, Pengiran Muda Mahkota Pengiran Muda Hj A1-Muhtadee Billah Hospital in Tutong, Sun Seri Begawan Hospital and SgLiang Health Centre in Belait and Pengiran Isteri Hajah Mariam Hospital in Temburong.

During the first week of this month, 4, 295 got their H1N1 jabs at the Indoor Stadium of the Hassanal Bolkiah National Sports Complex in Bcrakas. Statistics for the other health centres were unavailable at press time.

Several students interviewed after their vaccinations said even though they were worried about the side effects, they realised the importance of getting the vaccine injections.

Secondary Four student Ummu Hanani Abd Latiff, 15, said "even though I am worried about the side effects, my parents encouraged me to get vaccinated. Don't be afraid to be vaccinated. it's important not to exaggerate the real situation".

Syasya Syahirah Hj Ahmad Ghazali, 14, shared Ummu sentiment. "I felt nervous during the injection, but I'm fine now. Before the vaccinations, we were briefed by health officers on the procedure and what to expect from the vaccinations."-- Courtesy of The Brunei Times

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