Swine flu vaccine arrives next week

Cayman health officials expect 10,000 doses of swine flu H1N1 vaccine to be available to the public in early January.

The Pan American Health Organisation has assured Cayman that the vaccines will arrive late this month or in the first week of January, according to health officials.

‘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,’ said health minister Mark Scotland.

‘However, I urge people to continue to take the usual precautions, such as good personal hygiene and staying home when sick,’ he added.

The vaccine supply for the Cayman Islands is produced by Sanofi Pasteur in France, approved by the World Health Organisation and the 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.

Health officials said that in keeping with international guidelines, the initial doses of the vaccine will be offered first to health care workers and support staff to ensure there is no disruption to health care services; to 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.

The vaccine has been widely available in Europe and the US and other regions for more than two months. The delay in its arrival in Cayman prompted the health minister to ask Governor Stuart Jack in early November to intervene with UK authorities to send swine flu vaccines to Cayman as soon as possible.

As of 19 December, there were 118 confirmed cases of H1N1 in Cayman, according to Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Anna Matthews.