Venezuela reports 124 confirmed H1N1 cases

Health authorities in Venezuela have confirmed 124 cases of H1N1 influenza in the country as of Wednesday, including 25 cases in the Capital District of Caracas.

Eugenia Sader, the Minister of Health in Venezuela, said that the country’s government has enough vaccines to deal with the outbreak, though no country-wide immunization plan is scheduled, El Universal reports.

“The vaccine is only recommended for populations at risk: children, pregnant women, adults of 60 years old and people with chronic diseases - high blood pressure, heart disease or cancer,” Sader said, according to El Universal.

While 18 countries in the region implemented a mass vaccination plan after the pandemic of 2010, Haiti, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic were the only countries in the hemisphere that failed to implement an immunization plan. This goes against recommendations from the Pan American Health Organization and several official announcements.

During the original H1N1 pandemic, which began May 2009 in Venezuela, a total of 135 people died, including 24 pregnant women.

"The World Health Organization had warned that the current outbreak was going to enter into a post-pandemic period,” Ana Carvajal, an infectious disease specialist and director of the Network of Scientific and Medical Societies of Venezuela, said, according to El Universal. “The WHO had suggested that the cases of acute respiratory infections and seasonal influenza virus could increase. Venezuela was affected by a hike in the number of cases. The cold spell has also been a factor to increase the number of cases.”

Carvajal also said that the vaccination plan, which just began, was “15 months late.”