Influenza vaccine for the 2022/2023 season will be available at 50 health centers in Trinidad starting Friday. Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said five mass vaccination sites would open across the island on Monday.
At the virtual launch of the campaign on Wednesday, Deyalsingh said 75,000 doses of the vaccine had arrived in TT on Tuesday and were being distributed, some going to Tobago. He said they cost $285,000. The expiration date is August 2023.
“The vaccines are a trivalent vaccine, which means they contain two strains of influenza A (H1N1, H3N2) and one strain of influenza B.
“We are trying to vaccinate as many people as possible as soon as possible, especially in high-risk groups: health workers, the pregnant population, the elderly over 65 years of age, children six months and older, immunosuppressed people and all those with non-communicable diseases – diabetes, hypertension, cancers, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, etc.”
He said the vaccines will be available at 15 NCRHA centers, with a mass vaccination site at Divali Nagar.
At the NWRHA, six health centers will have the vaccine, and the mass vaccination site will be the Paddock at Queen’s Park Savannah.
The ERHA will have vaccines in 17 health centers and two mass vaccination points will be set up in the Sangre Grande Civic Center and the Mayaro Sports Center.
Vaccines will be available at seven health centers in SWRHA and the mass vaccination site will be set up at the Atrium, Gulf City Mall, La Romaine.
Deyalsingh said that in addition to these locations, the RHAs will also conduct community outreach and informal vaccination drives.
CMO Dr. Roshan Parasram said the vaccine would be administered by intramuscular injection. He said it was inactive and could not cause infection. He said children ages six to 35 months would get 0.25 milliliters of the vaccine and those older than that would get 0.5 milliliters. Common side effects would be pain/tenderness at the injection site, fatigue, headaches, and muscle aches.
He said flu season typically runs from October through May of the following year.
In the last five years, the acceptance of vaccines has varied.
“In 2017-18 we would have distributed 63,495 vaccines, in 2018-19 90,051, in 2019-2020 121,500, in 2020-2021 74,887 and in the 2021-2022 flu season 26,807.
“So we saw a slightly decreasing trend over the course of Covid-19. Our average for those five years is about 75,000, which is what we would have asked for this year, based on the five-year trend.”
Deyalsingh gave an update on the number of childhood vaccinations. He said polio was at 94 percent, DPT3 was at 94 percent, MMR1 was at 95 percent, MMR2 was at 93 percent, and yellow fever was at 91 percent.
Parasram noted that this year there were 564 cases of influenza for 2022 and three deaths. He said the flu season seemed to have started earlier, with cases being seen in September, which could be due to the virus adapting after increased public health measures in the past two years. He said that investigation was needed to determine the cause, and that the ministry would press the UWI to look in that direction.
Parasram said 300 to 400 people were being tested for Covid-19 daily, and once they tested negative, they were sent to be tested for various strains of the flu.
He said people who used epi-pens or had a history of allergic reactions to vaccines should see a doctor before getting vaccinated.
Deyalsingh noted that some of the measures taken for covid19 were also being used for the flu, including sanitizing/washing hands, wearing masks and staying away.
Consultant pulmonologist Dr. Sana Mohammed said seasonal influenza is an acute respiratory virus. The main signs and symptoms are the sudden onset of fever, dry cough, headaches, muscle or joint pain, malaise or malaise, sore throat and runny nose.
“Most people recover from symptoms within a week without needing medical attention, but influenza can cause serious illness and death, especially in people at high risk.
He said that both influenza (flu) and the common cold are contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses. Flu symptoms are more intense and start more abruptly.
“Influenza can cause faster deterioration, and someone can go from mildly ill to severely ill, requiring hospitalization, in a matter of 24 hours. Some cases of influenza can also lead to death.
“Patients with severe or progressive clinical illness associated with the virus, that is, those who develop chest infections or pneumonia, those who have overwhelming infections (sepsis), or those who have any exacerbation of underlying chronic conditions, should seek immediate medical attention. immediate”.
She said there are several warning signs that things are getting worse, including a sudden high fever that isn’t affected by medication; in children, seizures, feeling faint, unresponsiveness; and, in general, anyone with abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and inability to tolerate food, worsening of respiratory symptoms, productive cough, and exacerbation of any underlying condition.