U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS – As flu season approaches, the VI Department of Health is urging residents to prioritize their well-being by getting vaccinated against the flu virus, especially the elderly and young children who are the most susceptible to severe flu-related complications.
“Flu season typically peaks during the fall and winter months, and the consequences of the virus can be severe,” said VI Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion. “The elderly, with weakened immune systems, and young children, whose immune systems are still developing, face an increased risk of complications if infected with the flu. The flu vaccine as a crucial preventive measure. It prevents the spread of the flu virus and reduces the severity of symptoms if one does contract the flu.”
The VI Department of Health encourages everyone to consult with their healthcare providers about the flu vaccine and to make it a priority in their healthcare routine.
Commissioner Encarnacion also noted that, with the official start of the season just days away and flu cases nationwide slowly rising, many residents are growing concerned with the possibility of a flu pandemic.
“Although we are already seeing cases of influenza here in the Territory, our numbers are very low compared to the same time last year,” Commissioner Encarnacion said. “Our local physicians have reported a total of 14 influenza cases between October and November 20 – 11 on St. Thomas, two (2) on St. Croix and one (1) on St. John. This is compared to 39 cases for the same period in 2022 – 18 on St. Croix, 17 on St. Thomas and four (4) on St. John. At this point, there is no flu pandemic.”
In addition to promoting flu vaccination, the VI Department of Health is working to increase awareness about other preventive measures, such as practicing good handwashing hygiene, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home when feeling unwell. These actions, combined with widespread vaccination, can help create a protective shield within the community and reduce the overall impact of the flu.
“Getting vaccinated against the flu is not only a personal health choice but also a community responsibility,” Commissioner Encarnacion said. “By taking the simple step of getting a flu shot, you contribute to the overall well-being of our community by protecting those who are most at risk.”
To support this effort, the Department of Health’s Community Health clinics continue to provide convenient access to the flu vaccine at no cost.
The flu vaccine is available on St. Croix from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday, at the Department of Health clinics located on the second floor of #35 Castle Coakley Unit 5, known as the Old Caribe Home Center Building. No appointment necessary.
On St. Thomas, for adults, vaccinations are available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday to Thursday, at the Community Health Clinic located at the Schneider Regional Medical Center. For children, vaccinations are available at the Maternal Child Health Clinic. Call 340-777-8804 ext. 2600 to make an appointment.
St. John Outreach Event to Offer Free Flu and Updated COVID Vaccines to Adults
As part of the Morris De Castro Clinic community engagement series, the Community Health Division on St. John will offer the flu vaccine free to all adults 18 years and older.
The St. John division is also offering the updated COVID vaccine, for the first time, free to St. John residents 18 years and older who are uninsured and under-insured.
The outreach event is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, November 28, 2023, at the Morris De Castro Clinic in Cruz Bay, St. John.
The VI Department of Health is not yet offering the updated COVID vaccine to the insured population. Insured individuals are encouraged to speak to their private provider about getting updated COVID vaccine.