Hundreds get vaccinated

Nurses have distributed between 400 and 500 doses of the swine flu H1N1 vaccine in Cayman since it arrived on island last Wednesday.

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kiran Kumar said the vaccinations had been done at the Cayman Islands Hospital, at Foster’s Airport Centre on Saturday and at the National Heroes Day celebrations in George Town on Monday.

“We have also given the vaccines for distribution to private doctors and to Faith Hospital [on Cayman Brac, so we’re still collating the figures, but between 400 and 500 have been done,” Dr. Kumar said.

This week, vaccinations are also available today (Wednesday, 27 January) at Hurley’s Supermarket in Grand Harbour from 5pm to 8pm, at Foster’s Airport Centre from 3pm to 8pm Friday and Hurley’s from 12 noon to 4pm on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Dr. Kumar said the Health Services Authority was “closely monitoring” allegations that the declaration of a worldwide swine flu pandemic by the World Health Organisation last June was fake and had been done to boost the finances of pharmaceutical companies manufacturing the vaccine.

A statement from the WHO last week described the allegations as “scientifically wrong and historically incorrect”, saying laboratory analyses showed the H1N1 strain was genetically different from other strains; was transmitted from person to person and, at the time the pandemic was declared, had caused severe disease and death.

“As the pandemic evolved, clinicians identified a very severe form of primary viral pneumonia, which was rapidly progressive and frequently fatal, that is not part of the disease pattern seen during seasonal influenza. While these cases were relatively rare, they imposed a heavy burden on intensive care units,” the WHO statement read.

It added that the geographical spread of the H1N1 influenza virus was exceptionally rapid.

“The world is going through a real pandemic. The description of it as a fake is wrong and irresponsible,” the statement concluded.

Dr. Kumar said that health authorities depended on the WHO for direction on various programmes “unless otherwise proven”.

“We will closely monitor the situation and keep the public informed,” he said.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, a human rights watchdog based in Strasbourg, France, has recommended that the European Union investigate the WHO’s pandemic declaration to see if the health agency acted under undue influence.Nurses have distributed between 400 and 500 doses of the swine flu H1N1 vaccine in Cayman since it arrived on island last Wednesday.