Venezuelans are facing another vulnerable situation. This time it is the H1N1 virus, a flu pandemic that started in the middle of March 2011, according to the Ministry of Health on their official webpage [es]. Besides this information, there is another version that comes from the Red de Sociedades Científicas y Médicas de Venezuela [Medical and Scientific Societies Network of Venezuela] which informs [es] that the first cases of H1N1 developed in the beginning of February in the Guarico state.
Marcos Díaz Orellana, the governor of the sate of Merida [es], suspended classes in the University of Los Andes as part of a preventive measure.
The instructions regarding vaccination, provided by Minister of Health Eugenia Sader, are clear [es] enough:
En cuanto a la vacunación, advirtió que sólo está indicada la vacuna en niños y niñas de seis meses, adultos y adultas mayores de 60 años, personas con el sistema inmunológico comprometido (VIH/SIDA, cáncer, diabetes, hipertensión o problemas respiratorios) y mujeres embarazadas, “de resto no hay indicación de vacuna a la población en general”.
She also recommended this to prevent [es] the flu:
“Debe quedarse en casa para evitar contagiar a otros, lavarse las manos frecuentemente con agua y jabón o gel antibacterial, mantener las habitaciones ventiladas y en caso de dudas, la población puede llamar al 0-800-VIGILAN (8444526).”
On the other hand, the Red de Sociedades Científicas y Médicas de Venezuela has asserted that:
“La falta de vacunación oportuna causó nuevo brote de AH1N1″
There are some reactions from citizens on Twitter. Gerald Capriles affirms (@Gecacapri):
Me da miedo la #Ah1n1
Carmen Ramia (@carmenramia) informs:
Casos de influenza AH1N1 se duplicaron en Caracas en 24 horas.
La vacunación contra AH1N1 debe ser masiva, todos los venezolanos tenemos el derecho a ser protegidos.
Dr. Rigoberto Marcano (@rigotordoc) gives the discussion a political tone by referring to the administration of President Hugo Chavez as “the regime.”
Gonzalo Rodriguez (@ponchalo2012) states ironically:
GabO! (@gabocumarin) talks about President Chavez's declarations regarding H1N1:
Some citizens have taken precautions, deciding to go to private drugstores to buy the vaccination to avoid getting the virus. Nevertheless, those drugstores are regulated by the Ministry Health in order to provide an accurate figure. Locatel, a well known Venezuelan drugstore chain, asked the Ministry for 1500 vaccinations and it was just given 29, adding those citizens that want to vaccinate against H1N1 to a waiting list. El Nacional [es] informed that “New flu triple vaccine for the H1N1 treatment will be arriving to Venezuela by the end of this week, the Minister of Health Eugenia Sader informed this Monday, on March 28.”
Beyond what the real cause of the outbreak and the recommendations from health authorities, Venezuelans have responsibly taken precautions on their own, even though examination expenses and vaccinations in private hospitals imply an extra cost in their family or personal budget.
On Sunday, March 27, President Chavez confirmed in his show “Aló Presidente” that: “we already have 382 [es] cases of H1N1 flu.”
On March 28 Venezuela woke up to 415 [es] “confirmed” cases.