THE IB-Salut Balearic Health Service has put all of its hospitals and surgeries on an early flu alert after the annual epidemic has broken out in parts of the mainland much earlier than usual this winter.
One of the three flu strains which have been detected this year is from Australia and is particularly fierce, according to doctors, and the general public, in particular the young, elderly and people suffering from respiratory problems, have been reminded to make sure that they are vaccinated against the flu.
The vaccination campaign was launched nearly two months ago and officially ended last week but the flu epidemic could hit the islands before Christmas.
Hospitals are now prepared for a sudden surge in patients and banks of extra beds have been established. However, the health service is advising the general public to consult their GP at their local surgery if they suspect they may be coming down with flu and not head to the casualty department of their nearest hospital.
This year, nearly 200'000 vaccines have been bought by the Ib-Salut health service, more than sufficient to vaccinate the region's elderly population, and the response from the public, in particular those in the three high risk groups, has apparently been very high.
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