Trinidad: Swine flu vaccines run low

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

(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.

District Medical Officer Dr Clement Ragobar vaccinates 95-year-old Basdeo Mulchan at the Susamachar Presbyterian Church, yesterday.

“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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