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Fast spreading flu epidemic ravaging Okinawa’s schools

Date Posted: 2003-01-31

A third of Okinawa’s school students are experiencing the officials urge persons who are over 65 to be vaccinated anyway. Flu vaccinations for senior citizens over the age 65 are free.

Another problem is that there is not enough special effects of a seasonal influenza epidemic, staying home after catching the flu. Prefecture health officials expect this year’s epidemic to be more severe than the last serious flu epidemic in 1998-99.

They also say that the epidemic is spreading extremely fast, with a ten-fold increase in reported cases from week to week. The virus causing this year’s epidemic has been identified as Hong Kong Type A, which can be prevented by vaccination. The problem, officials say, is that the speed with which the virus spread took officials by surprise. It takes three weeks for the vaccination to take effect, and many people have postponed taking the shot. However, medicine to treat the flu. The medicine is not manufactured in Japan, and officials say it takes one month to import the needed medicine from Sweden. Now, prefecture health officials are stressing the importance of preventive measures. They urge people to avoid crowds, and to wear surgical masks when in public. They also say that gargling often is very important. Visits to hospitals should also be avoided as much as possible, as many carrying the virus are seeking medical help.

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