Puerto Rican authorities urge citizens to get flu shots

San Juan, Mar 12 (EFE).- Puerto Rico's health secretary called on people Tuesday to get flu vaccinations in view of the alarm created by the high incidence of the disease on the Caribbean island.

Francisco Joglar asked citizens to go to the vaccination centers distributed around the island, particularly children and teens up to age 19, the age group suffering 57 percent of cases registered in recent days.

"This flu vaccination alert is an urgent call to action so that parents get moving to get their children vaccinated and so we don't have to mourn any deaths from the flu. Just a little more than 35 percent of the population has been vaccinated, and that is unacceptable because the doses are available," Joglar said.

He said that many people have been worried over the past few days by media reports about a scarcity of the Tamiflu, one of the medicines most often used to fight the infection.

"Faced with this confusion, as health secretary I have the responsibility to repeat that the only effective treatment is prevention by means of flu shots and the asepsis assured by washing your hands often and covering your mouth when you cough," Joglar said.

Health Department figures show a total of 9,397 cases of flu in Puerto Rico since the season of highest incidence began last Oct. 1.

The world flu epidemic in 2009 left 54 people dead in Puerto Rico, a year when there were fewer registered cases than in the current season to date.