Swine Flu vaccines distributed to hospitals

The original article can be found in: Trinidad Newsday  By Richardson Dhalai

APPROXIMATELY 15,000 Swine Flu vaccines have been already distributed to hospitals and health centres across the nation.

Some 60,000 vaccinations were ordered by the Ministry of Health, Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan said yesterday.

The minister said the majority of the population did not require vaccination and should instead practice standard infection control to curb the spread of the virus.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Khan reiterated that there was no need to panic as the majority of vaccines were only needed by those persons who were deemed to be “high risk” and pointed out that the patient who had died at the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH), due to complications arising out of the Swine Flu infection had already been diagnosed with a chronic lung infection.

“The vaccines are being distributed to the health centres,” Khan said, adding, “but I also want to say the majority of people do not need to be vaccinated.”

“The majority of the population has normal immune systems and even if they get Swine Flu, they would react like a normal cold,” he said. “But if someone has a previous condition such as chronic lung disease or they may be obese or something of that order where your immune system is suppressed or you are taking cancer drugs or around people who may have the common cold, those persons are deemed to be of high risk,” he said.

Khan said San Fernando possessed the highest incidence of cases and advised “those persons deemed to be high risk should visit the nearest health centre as the health officers are the ones who are giving the vaccines, not the actual hospital, the hospitals are there for emergency treatment if necessary.” He said while there was “no rush” for vaccines, Khan pointed out that “the best thing right now is social distancing” such as the washing hands with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitiser containing at least 70 percent alcohol, especially after coughing or sneezing.

Meanwhile, SFGH medical director, Dr Anand Chatoorgoon, confirmed that the hospital had received a batch of vaccines on Friday evening and no new cases had been reported by medical staff.

‘Everything is normal, I have not been informed of any new cases so there is no need to panic. Everything is under control, Chatoorgoon said.

Meanwhile, Education Minister, Dr Tim Gopeesingh, in a telephone interview yesterday, said he had already assigned the Ministry’s chief education officer, together with the permanent secretary and other officers to meet with the Health Ministry’s officers to ‘make recommendations’; regarding the nation’s school children and prevention awareness programmes.

Symptoms of the Influenza virus include a sudden high fever (over 38°C or 100°F), sore throat

runny or stuffy nose, coughing, headache, body aches and fatigue.

The Ministry stated that persons experiencing ‘Influenza-like symptoms and any signs of faintness, weakness or breathing difficulty should go immediately to the nearest Hospital Emergency Room for management.’

‘Persons in high-risk groups experiencing flu-like symptoms should seek early medical attention. These groups include: Pregnant women, children under 2 years of age; persons with respiratory complications like asthma and chronic lung disease; persons with weakened immune systems including persons on chemotherapy or immuno-suppressive therapy for transplants or other medical conditions; persons with chronic non-communicable diseases including diabetes; and persons 65 years and older.’

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