By Charlotte Markham, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Beginning this Monday, April 25th, those identified in high risk groups can receive the vaccine against the H1N1, also know as the swine flu, at public healthcare posts across Rio de Janeiro state. Over 3,000 locations in 92 municipalities are now equipped with the vaccine and those in priority risk groups have been advised to take the vaccine in anticipation of the upcoming Brazilian winter.

Immunization against influenza has begun in Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Brazil News
Immunization against influenza has begun in Rio de Janeiro, photo by Maurizio Bazílio/IMPRENSA RJ.

According to the Ministry of Health guidelines, the priority high risk groups specifically include, in addition to children aged six months to under five years, pregnant women and patients with chronic diseases, women up to 45 days after delivery, the elderly aged from sixty years, and indigenous health workers.

This year four hundred cases of the H1N1 strand of influenza were reported in Rio state, with three deaths, emphasizing that it is critical that the public take advantage of the vaccine to diminish chances of contracting influenza and causing potential fatalities.

In comparison to last year’s figures, cases of H1N1 are up drastically, with particular prevalence in São Paulo state, where there have already been 38 deaths.

The City of Rio’s Secretary of Health, Daniel Soranz, says that the aim is to vaccinate 200,000 people, including immunizing eighty percent of the priority groups before May 5th this year. The vaccine immunizes the three influenza virus subtypes circulating more during winter: A/H1N1, A/H3N2 and influenza B.

The Secretary of Health Surveillance, Alexandre Chieppe, stated to remember, “The flu, in most cases, has no complications, but among the priority groups, can progress to more severe forms. Prevention is key. The vaccine is safe and effective, it protects against the main types of influenza viruses, including H1N1.” Adding, “Cases of serious reactions have never been reported in relation to this vaccine and the benefits are undeniable.”

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