Health News of Wednesday, 30 June 2010
Accra, June 30, GNA - The Greater Accra Regional Health Directorate on Wednesday announced an extension of the H1N1 vaccination for 2009 from Wednesday, June 30, to Friday, July 30. The exercise began in the Metropolis from the first week of June. Mr Ato Ashon, Greater Accra Regional Disease Control Officer, in an interview with Ghana News Agency in Accra on Tuesday, said the extension was due to the inability of the Directorate to meet its initial target of about 350,700 people.
"The first batch included health staff, pregnant women, security personnel, and high risk groups such as asthmatic, hypertensive, diabetic, HIV/AIDS and cancer patients," he added.
Mr Ashon explained that the vaccination was to protect high risk people between the ages 18 to 60 to maintain high population immunity to the disease, as well as to prevent and control its spread. H1N1 is caused by a virus that affects the respiratory system and spreads through coughs and sneezes or by touching contaminated surfaces, The symptoms include common cold with cough, sore throat, fever, catarrh, general weakness, body ache, headache, and sometimes vomiting or diarrhoea. It may also lead to severe pneumonia with difficulty in breathing, rapid breathing and chest pain.
Mr Ashon said the symptoms could last up to a week, and that complications of the disease included pneumonia and difficulty in breathing, adding the disease was highly contagious with majority of cases presented as mild sickness, especially in younger people. He said regular hand washing with soap and water, hand rubbing with alcohol, keeping a distance from infected persons and wearing of protective clothing by those taking care of patients, were some of the measures to stop its spread. Ghana is among countries selected by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to receive influenza vaccines to control the spread of the virus.