Health minister Terrence Deyalsingh is a bit peeved by citizens' lackadaisical attitude to getting themselves vaccinated against the potentially deadly H1N1 Type A flu virus.
He complained, “Every night on TV6 news there is a ticker tape message at the bottom of the screen urging people to get vaccinated. I and the CMO have been out doing work at ante-natal clinics all over the country, but people only wait until somebody dies to do something.
“We have made available 75,000 doses of the influenza vaccine to the public. But people are just so laid back when it comes to personal responsibility.
"Then when someone dies they want to know what the government is doing about it. They give all sorts of reasons why they don’t want to get vaccinated.”
Deyalsingh was responding to an unconfirmed report from a public health institution that there may have been another “swine flu” death. Unaware of any such news, Deyalsingh took the opportunity to say the vaccination drive against the virus, which he started, has been ongoing since November of last year.
People can be vaccinated at any health centre, free of charge.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram, has also strongly advised people to be vaccinated against the H1N1 Type A virus, especially in the height of the present flu season, which started last October and continues to May .
Nicole Seecharan, a Tabaquite woman, died from swine flu last month. It was the third such death for the year, the first being in April and the second mid-year.
When contacted yesterday and told of reports of a fourth person dying from the deadly virus, Parasram too told Newsday he had no report of it but said when it is suspected that someone has died from swine flu, it is first reported to the county medical officer of health, tests are taken and it takes a week or two to get back the results before a confirmation can be made.
He said when the H1N1 Type A influenza broke out worldwide in 2009, TT was affected.
“We have had sporadic cases from then to now. with the most in 2014/2015, but both the cases and deaths have been decreasing over the years.”
Parasram said this was due to the start of the vaccination programme with 14,000 doses made available in the first instance, another 65,000 last year and now 75,000 currently available.
He added: “We are now in the process of ordering 20,000 more vaccines so we’ll have 95,000 for the current flu season (October 2018-May 2019).
"But the key message is to make sure you get vaccinated. It is the best prevention against the virus. I also want to advise people to keep sick children away from school in the best interest of everybody, because that is where it is spread.”
He reiterated that vaccination is the key to prevention, adding, "Please note, after being vaccinated it takes two weeks to be protected against the virus.”