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Trinidad run low on swine flu vaccine

By Radhica Sookraj

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District Medical Officer Dr Clement Ragobar prepares a flu vaccine at the Susamachar Presbyterian Church.

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — In­fluen­za vac­ci­na­tions have run low in some health cen­tres as pub­lic de­mand grows with the threat of the dead­ly H1N1 virus.

At the Pleas­antville Health Cen­tre, scores of peo­ple were turned away as sup­plies ran low. On­ly 162 peo­ple re­ceived vac­ci­na­tions at the Pe­nal Health Cen­tre while vac­ci­na­tions at Mara­bel­la and Roy Joseph in San Fer­nan­do al­so ran out.

At the Susamachar Pres­by­ter­ian Church, hun­dreds more came to get vac­ci­nat­ed. Dis­trict Med­ical Of­fi­cer Dr Clement Rago­b­ar said on­ly 50 vac­ci­na­tions were avail­able at the church but he said he planned to re­quest more vac­ci­na­tions next week. Rago­b­ar said many peo­ple in the church were el­der­ly and could not go to the health cen­tre to have the vac­ci­na­tions done.

“We are ad­vis­ing peo­ple to go to their dis­trict health cen­tres and get vac­ci­nat­ed,” Rago­b­ar said.

Rev Kendrick Sook­nar­ine said many peo­ple were con­cerned about the spread of swine flu es­pe­cial­ly as Car­ni­val was draw­ing clos­er.

Sev­er­al peo­ple who were in­ter­viewed said they were un­able to get vac­ci­na­tions at the pub­lic health cen­tres. One woman said she was turned away from the Pleas­atville, Roy Joseph, Mara­bel­la and La Ro­maine health cen­tres when he sought vac­ci­na­tion yes­ter­day.

“The nurs­es at Pleas­antville said vac­ci­na­tions ran out and they will not get any­more un­til Feb­ru­ary. The Min­istry is telling us to go and get vac­ci­nat­ed but all day to­day I have been dri­ving around to get vac­ci­nat­ed and I am still wait­ing,” the woman said.

Ci­ta Has­sanali al­so said she went to the Pleas­antville and Mara­bel­la health cen­tres and was told that there were no more vac­ci­na­tions avail­able.

How­ev­er, Med­ical Di­rec­tor Dr Al­bert Per­saud said while stocks were run­ning low at some health cen­tres, the Min­istry had suf­fi­cient vac­cines.

“Be­cause of the de­mand we were run­ning low and in some health cen­tres we con­tact­ed the Min­istry and we were told that they were go­ing to send vac­cines in the next two days,” Per­saud said. He said he had no in­for­ma­tion that vac­cines will be avail­able un­til Feb­ru­ary.

Mean­while, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of the South­west Re­gion­al Health Au­thor­i­ty Kei­th Mc Don­ald said San Fer­nan­do Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal does not have the equip­ment or ca­pac­i­ty to test swine flu. He not­ed that it usu­al­ly takes about a week be­fore re­sults are made avail­able by the Caribbean Pub­lic Health Agency (CARPHA).

“There are lots of swabs that have to be test­ed and with the num­ber of re­quests for test­ing be­ing made we usu­al­ly get the re­sults in a week.”

Mc Don­ald said there were no new cas­es of H1N1 at the hos­pi­tal. Cur­rent­ly, there are sev­en peo­ple be­ing treat­ed for swine flu but they are not con­firmed cas­es, Mc Don­ald added. He not­ed that three peo­ple have al­ready died from swine flu over the past few weeks.

Health Min­is­ter Ter­rence Deyals­ingh said there were over 75,000 vac­ci­na­tions avail­able.

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