Ministry to distribute 100,000 doses of flu vaccines

Friday, November 8, 2019 - 00:15

From to­day 100,000 dos­es of in­fluen­za vac­cines will be made avail­able at pub­lic health cen­tres as the Min­istry of Health seeks to pre­vent the spread of the virus.

The H1N1 virus, in par­tic­u­lar, has claimed over a dozen lives over the past decade and is es­pe­cial­ly dan­ger­ous to the el­der­ly, ba­bies and peo­ple suf­fer­ing from obe­si­ty, di­a­betes and oth­er non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases.


Min­is­ter of Health Ter­rence Deyals­ingh has de­nied there is a cov­er-up of the in­fluen­za sta­tis­tics in re­sponse to a post shared on the Face­book page, ‘Kick out the PNM’ which claimed that there have been 30 deaths so far and 1,000 re­port­ed cas­es in hos­pi­tals across the coun­try.

Seek­ing to dis­pel ru­mours that the virus was on the rise, Deyals­ingh said the num­ber of sus­pect­ed cas­es in 2019 was much low­er than in pre­vi­ous years. He said in 2016, the to­tal num­ber of sus­pect­ed cas­es was 6,535 while the fig­ure as of Oc­to­ber 2019 was 2077.

The Min­istry al­so is­sued a state­ment of­fer­ing sta­tis­tics for the pe­ri­od 2013 to 2019. The Min­istry said ze­ro deaths were record­ed in 2016 and 2017, sev­en in 2018 and a fur­ther sev­en in 2019.  There were no da­ta avail­able for the years 2013 to 2015. Even though the Min­istry of Health says ze­ro H1N1 deaths were record­ed in 2016, an of­fi­cial death cer­tifi­cate from Point Fortin se­cu­ri­ty guard Prakash Sookraj iden­ti­fied H1N1 ill­ness as the cause of his death.

The of­fi­cial death cer­tifi­cate showed that he died from low­er res­pi­ra­to­ry tract in­fec­tion, hy­pox­ic brain in­jury, H1N1 vi­ral ill­ness and chron­ic kid­ney in­jury.


Say­ing the Min­istry is cur­rent­ly en­gaged in a ro­bust In­fluen­za Vac­ci­na­tion Dri­ve for the 2020 Flu Sea­son Oc­to­ber 2019 to Ju­ly 2020, the Min­istry said this cam­paign has been rolled out to re­duce the ex­po­sure and spread of the In­fluen­za Virus.

“As a re­sult of the ag­gres­sive cam­paigns pre­vi­ous­ly in­sti­tut­ed by the Min­istry, T&T has seen a steady de­cline in re­ports of sus­pect­ed in­fluen­za cas­es over the pe­ri­od 2016-2019.”

“In 2016 the to­tal num­ber of sus­pect­ed cas­es was 6,535 and the fig­ure as of 31st Oc­to­ber 2019, is 2,077. As such, con­trary to re­ports car­ried in the lo­cal me­dia, there is cur­rent­ly no flu out­break in T&T,” the Min­istry added.

Say­ing dis­tri­b­u­tion of 100,000 dos­es of the In­fluen­za Vac­cines will be made to all hos­pi­tals and health cen­tres through­out T&T, the Min­istry said this process should be com­plet­ed by Fri­day.

The Min­istry al­so urged cit­i­zens to con­tact their near­est health cen­tre to con­firm the days and times that the vac­cine will be dis­trib­uted.

The pub­lic al­so re­mind­ed that the in­fluen­za virus was more se­vere than the com­mon cold.

“As such, the nec­es­sary per­son­al health pre­cau­tions should be tak­en to pro­tect one­self and fam­i­ly from the In­fluen­za virus and oth­er dis­eases. This is the first line of de­fence against ill­ness,” the Min­istry added.

Last week for­mer health min­is­ter Hamza Rafeeq said there was a resur­gence of the virus. He called on the gov­ern­ment to make ad­e­quate pro­vi­sions to treat with the prob­lem.

 - by Radhica De Silva