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4,000 flu vaccines dispensed

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  • 4,000 flu vaccines dispensed

    <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="98%" align=center border=0><TBODY><TR><TD class=title colSpan=2>4,000 flu vaccines dispensed

    </TD></TR><TR><TD class=textsmall>Published on Wednesday, December 16, 2009</TD><TD class=textsmall align=right></TD></TR><TR><TD colSpan=2>
    <TABLE cellSpacing=1 cellPadding=1 width=160 align=left border=1><TBODY><TR><TD></TD><TD></TD></TR><TR><TD>Medical Officer of Health and Director of Public Health, Dr Kiran Kumar</TD><TD>Minister of Health, Hon Mark Scotland


    By Mwangi Ngamate

    Healthcare providers in the Cayman Islands have been able to administer up to 4,000 doses of flu vaccine in the current flu season and only 200 now remain.

    Some 3,000 doses were administered free of charge by the Health Services Authority, and 1,000 by the private clinics.

    The Medical Officer of Health and Director of Public Health, Dr Kiran Kumar, announced that logistics were still being worked out to have 12,500 doses of H1N1flu vaccine shipped over to the Cayman Islands from the United Kingdom.

    ?The vaccines will either arrive early next year or the later part of this month,? he said repeating what the Minister of Health, Hon Mark Scotland, said in late November.

    This year?s usage represents an increase in vaccinations compared to the 1,300 used up to this time last year. A total of 2,000 vaccines were used at the end of the year.

    In 2007, more than 300 flu vaccines became obsolete and were disposed of after residents failed to use them all.

    With the constant influx of tourists, as well as residents flying in and out of Cayman during the winter season, the flu virus is easily imported, necessitating the vaccine.

    Dr Kiran Kumar said that, due to the sensitization by the government to the public, as well as fears of the H1N1 virus, more people have taken a proactive approach in getting vaccinated, including vulnerable cases such as children from six months up to age 19, pregnant women, people aged 50 years and older and those suffering with certain chronic medical conditions.

    ?Despite the fears that were present, we did not restrict anybody from getting the vaccines,? he said.

    Dr Kumar said that Health Services Authority ran a campaign to educate the public, who were responsive and took up the flu shots.

    The flu shots administered this year were the injectibles, where only those people who are known to react to some drugs as well as albumen (protein found the in the egg) were not encouraged to receive the shots.

    Following scares created by the infamous swine flu, which was then renamed as H1N1 under the pressure of animal advocates, most countries in the world have been anxious to get the vaccines.

    Cayman, for its part, worked an agreement with the UK Department of Health to have vaccines imported into the country.

    An announcement made late last month noted that the vaccines were to arrive in late December or early in the New Year. The Public Health Department has also been working closely with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to secure a second source of H1N1 vaccine.

    To date, Cayman has registered a total of 109 confirmed H1N1 cases.

    According to the American based Centre for disease control CDC, this virus was originally referred to as ?swine flu? because laboratory testing showed that many of the genes in this new virus were very similar to influenza viruses that normally occur in pigs (swine) in North America. But further study has shown that this new virus is very different from what normally circulates in North American pigs. It has two genes from flu viruses that normally circulate in pigs in Europe and Asia and bird (avian) genes and human genes. Scientists call this a ?quadruple reassortant? virus.

    "Safety and security don't just happen, they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."
    -Nelson Mandela