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Another swine flu death

By MIRANDA LA ROSE Saturday, January 9 2016

THE nation has recorded its fifth fatality caused by the H1N1 influenza with the death of a 68-year-old male patient, and also recorded 46 laboratory confirmed cases, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said yesterday.

Deyalsingh also assured that there was no shortage of H1N1 vaccines in the public sector for at risk persons with supplies brought into the country yesterday and in recent days, and 37,000 more due in the country on Monday.

Meanwhile, the 68-year-man, who died at the Sangre Grande Regional Hospital yesterday morning after being hospitalised for 21 days, Deyalsingh said, was a high risk patient.

Apart from his age, he said, the man had a 20- year history of heavy smoking and as such his health was compromised.

On a more positive note, he noted that a high risk patient who delivered a baby at the San Fernando General Hospital recently and who was hospitalised for H1N1, has recovered and was discharged.

Both mother and infant, he said, were reportedly doing fine.

Meanwhile, he noted that the country has sufficient vaccines to meet the needs of those at risk in the country. Protocol dictates that in the public sector, he said, “You only vaccinate high risk groups. We have a duty of care to at risk citizens first and foremost.” The risk of getting the H1N1 as a healthy individual, he said, was not fatal.

“Even if you get it, you will not suffer the deadly symptoms. It falls off your back like water on a duck’s back for a healthy individual.” In the public health system, he said, “we do not vaccinate healthy non-risk people in their teens, 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. That is not public health. Otherwise we would have to import 1.3 million vaccines.” On the availability of vaccines, he said that based on the based on historical data, the Ministry of Health in January 2015 ordered 15,000 adult and 5,000 paediatric vaccines. Of this 19,440 was used up during the current flu season. Compared to previous years dating back to 2009, he said, the utlisation rate went up.

“Once we saw this run on vaccines,” he said, “in 2016, we ordered an additional 8,500 of which 500 came in from St Lucia on Wednesday night and 8,000 from Belize (yesterday).” Apart from the 28,000 used for the period, he said that, “We have coming in through the Pan American Health Organisation on Monday an additional 37,500.” This flu season, he said, “The ministry would have used three times the amount of vaccines historically used in Trinidad and Tobago.” He noted that in 2009 with the first outbreak of H1N1, 140,000 vaccines were obtained but because of the short shelf life, 77.6 per cent or 108,743 were not used. They were dumped. Between 2012 and 2015 between 10,000 to 20,000 were obtained and an average of 50 per cent were used annually.

“Vaccines are ordered by the private sector through private distributor where it is currently out of stock,” Deyalsingh said, but the public sector acquires the vaccines for its health centres and hospitals through an arrangement with PAHO.

The protocols for those to be vaccinated in the health system are children between two to five years, health care workers, pregnant women, persons over the age of 65, persons with metabolic diseases like diabetes, and persons using steroids for asthma, arthritis, and rheumatism among other diseases and which would have compromised the immune system.



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