A PUSH is on to get more people, especially healthcare workers, vaccinated against influenza ahead of a possible new bout of SARS.
The Health Ministry wants hospitals and polyclinics to vaccinate staff by November, and to subsidise the cost of the jabs to encourage more people to get vaccinated.
This is to prevent a repetition of what had happened at the Institute of Mental Health in May, when 1,600 hospital employees moved out of their homes as a precaution after a group of patients came down with fever. It turned out they did not have SARS, only the flu.
The ministry hopes that if healthcare workers are vaccinated, there would be less background noise and confusion should SARS strike again. If a vaccinated person shows flu symptoms thereafter, there is a higher likelihood that he has SARS.
The ministry also urged doctors to vaccinate high-risk patients: the elderly, pregnant women and those with asthma, diabetes or heart problems. Next month, it would start vaccinating all 7,500 residents in nursing and welfare homes.
SingHealth has begun vaccinating its 12,000 employees. The Straits Times/Asia News Network
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