H1N1 Vaccine Available Soon
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kiran Kumar has announced that based on assurances from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) the H1N1 flu vaccine is expected in the Cayman Islands by the end of this month and will be available to the public in early January.
"The flu season is far from over, and I am very relieved that we will soon start to vaccinate our health care workers and high risk population. However, I urge people to continue to take the usual precautions such as good personal hygiene and staying home when sick," Minister of Health Mark Scotland said.
The vaccine supply for the Cayman Islands is produced by Sanofi Pasteur in France, approved by WHO and European Union.
"We will receive 10,000 doses initially and we will have enough quantities to vaccinate everyone who wishes to have it as the demand will be monitored and additional supplies will be procured as needed," said Dr. Kumar.
In keeping with international guidelines, the initial doses of the vaccine will be offered first to designated priority groups:
- health care workers and support staff to ensure there is no disruption to health care services,
- pregnant women in any trimester and those who are most at risk of severe disease i.e. diabetes, those with chronic respiratory, cardiac (excluding hypertension) renal, liver and neurological disease.
Later, essential workers and all others will be offered the vaccine.
In response to concerns about international media reports of recalls of certain lots of the vaccine Dr. Kumar emphasized that "the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccines are made the same way as seasonal flu vaccines, which have very good safety track records. Any side effects that have occurred since people started receiving the 2009 H1N1 vaccine have been similar to those experienced following seasonal influenza vaccine. However the Public Health Department will be closely monitoring for any signs that the vaccine is causing unexpected adverse events and will be guided by recommendations from the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization."
The Medical Officer of Health says further that "the main objective of the pandemic Influenza A H1N1 2009 vaccination campaign in the Cayman Islands is to save lives and protect those most at risk of serious infection with this new virus: the next objective is to minimize transmission by protecting as many individuals as possible."
The Public Health Department will issue advisories in the New Year on the dates and sites where the vaccines will be available. The vaccine will be provided at no cost to private practitioners interested to offer the vaccine to their patients.