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TCI Vaccine uptake soars and approaches 20,000; 56% with first shots says Ministry of Health

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#TurksandCaicos, May 12, 2021 – The Ministry of Health and Human Services is pleased to update the general public that as of May 9 2021, a total of 19,515 persons in the TCI have received their first dose of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine.  This represents roughly 56 per cent of the adult population and marks a tremendous milestone of the ongoing vaccination campaign which commenced in January 2021. Additionally, 42 per cent of the adult population or 14,803 persons are now fully vaccinated having received both vaccines.

The Ministry of Health and Human Services would like to encourage unvaccinated persons to strongly consider taking the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine on offer in the TCI, the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, is 95 per cent effective and is safe.

The number of active COVID-19 cases locally peaked to over 600 in February and has consistently declined since including the number of COVID-19 related admissions to the hospital.

The TCIs 28 positivity rate is now 2.7 per cent when considering PCR tests only. It is 2.3 per cent when considering both PCR and antigen tests. This is the lowest positivity rate the TCI has recorded for a 28-day period since early December. This gives supportive evidence of the effectiveness of the vaccination campaign considering the country has remained open since July 2020. In order to build on this progress as well as the continued reopening of the TCIs economy, continued support of the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination campaign is needed.

In commenting on these achievements, the Hon Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Human Services stated the following; “I would like to congratulate my team within the Ministry of Health on getting the 28-day positivity rate down below 3 per cent. This is an amazing achievement and milestone. Combined with achieving 56 per cent uptake of the vaccine (albeit for the first dose), 42 per cent fully vaccinated, and the increased rate of uptake which will allow us to get a 4th batch of the vaccine this is a great achievement. With the continued support of the general public, we can look forward to continuing to build on these achievements so that the TCI can begin to return to normal.”

The general public is encouraged to contact their health care provider for vaccination appointments and/or access the vaccination through community events by the Primary Health Care Department which is available at no cost to all residents.

Health

Over 75 per cent Fully Vaccinated, Over 800 Boosted says Chief Medical Officer

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#TurksandCaicos, October 19, 2021 – “This week’s COVID vaccine report as of 11th October records a total of 28 529 persons or 82% of the population have received the first dose of the COVID19 vaccine with 26 233 persons being fully vaccinated which represents 75.1% of the eligible population. 4 Importantly, since the launch of the TCIs COVID-19 vaccine booster strategy which was launched on 4th October 2021, a total of 816 persons have received their booster doses.

The Ministry of Health continues to promote the COVID-19 vaccine which is readily accessible and free of cost to residents as a critical defense against COVID19 and a tool which will help the TCI to get back to the new normal amidst the ongoing pandemic.

We don’t have to look far to see what an enviable position the TCI is in as it relates to our access to the COVID-19 vaccine through the UKG. To date, we have received 5 tranches of the vaccine with additional deliveries being arranged in order to ensure that our resident population is protected.

Many countries both near and far are still struggling to meet the demands for the vaccine by their citizens and are experiencing challenges in accessing sufficient quantities of the vaccine to protect vulnerable groups as well as the wider population.

Each country continues to place a focus on the vaccine as a means of managing the pandemic in order to reduce both deaths and hospitalizations. Although we have come far in this regard in the TCI, we can still do better. We need more persons to become vaccinated.

Those who are eligible should get vaccinated to protect those who cannot get vaccinated such as young children below the age of 12 years. We owe it to our fellow citizens to do what we can as individuals to protect the wider community. We still have room for improvement as it relates to persons who would be considered vulnerable as well as younger persons whose uptake remains relatively low.

Pregnant women are another group I would like to highlight as the data around the world has shown that pregnant women who are unvaccinated against COVID19. Pregnant and recently pregnant people are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 when compared with non-pregnant people. Severe illness includes illness that requires hospitalization, intensive care or illness that results in death. Additionally, pregnant people with COVID-19 are at increased risk of preterm birth and might be at increased risk of other adverse pregnancy outcomes, compared with pregnant women without COVID-19. In the UK, it has been recently reported that pregnant women who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 account for almost 20% of critically ill coronavirus patients in England’s hospitals, in a statement from the National Health Service.

One in five patients receiving treatments through a special lung-bypass machine since July were expectant mothers who have not had their first shots. The vaccine as we have said before, is safe for persons who are trying to conceive as well as women who are pregnant. The vaccine is safe in these groups and can reduce the risk of infection and protect both mother and baby. It can also offer protection to the babies through the transmission of antibodies generated in response to the vaccine.

All pregnant women in the TCI are being encouraged to become fully vaccinated.”

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Bahamas News

World Sight Day: Love Your Eyes

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Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.  14 October, 2021.  In the Caribbean, the leading causes of blindness are glaucoma, cataract and diabetic retinopathy (a complication of diabetes).  According to the Vision Atlas, 6.2 million persons in the Caribbean were reported to have vision loss, with an estimated 260,000 persons reported to be blind in 2020.

Information gathered from eighteen (18) Caribbean countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Belize, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago) with a population of 44 million, showed that the crude prevalence of blindness was 0.60%, and the prevalence of all vision loss was 13.20%. Many of the persons affected were females at 52%.

Global statistics reveal that for 2020, a total of 596 million persons had distance vision impairment worldwide, of this number 43 million were blind.  Projections for 2050, indicate that an estimated 885 million persons may be affected by distance vision impairment with 61 million expected to experience  blindness.

CARPHA’s vision for the Caribbean is a region where the health and wellness of the people are promoted and protected from disease, injury and disability, thereby enabling human development in keeping with the belief that the health of the Region is the wealth of the Region.

Although there are no projects that directly address vision impairment, CARPHA in collaboration with its public health partners is implementing initiatives to address risk factors such as unhealthy diets, use of harmful substances and poor physical activities. This in turn, will help reduce the risk of disability due to complications associated with poor blood sugar and blood pressure management.

Efforts to improve the standards of care for diabetes through the implementation of the CARPHA Guidelines on the Management of Diabetes in Primary Care in the Caribbean, and training of health care workers from the CARPHA Member States will also contribute to the prevention of vision impairment and blindness due to diabetes.

Access to eye care services can reduce visual impairment.  CARPHA urges Member States to strengthen health systems to improve eye health services with emphasis on reaching the vulnerable and those most in need.  Governments should commit to integrating eye care into the universal health care system.

World Sight Day is celebrated annually on the second Thursday in October.  The focus of the day is to bring awareness to blindness and vision impairment as a major public health issue and blindness prevention.

The 2021 commemoration observed on 14th October, seeks to encourage persons to think about the ‘importance of their own eye health.’

Our eyes are working hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have been indoors, in front of our screens, and probably missed our eye test appointments. Now more than ever, we need to protect and prioritize our eyesight. There are simple things you can do for yourself to prevent the development of serious eye issues:

  • Take screen breaks for at least five minutes every hour
  • Spend time outside.  Increased outdoor time can reduce the risk of myopia (near-sightedness)[3]
  • Get an eye test. A complete eye exam can detect eye conditions such as glaucoma before it has an effect on your sight. The earlier an eye condition is identified, the easier it is to treat.
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet and engage in physical activity. These are crucial steps in maintaining a healthy weight, controlling obesity, and preventing diseases such as diabetes, all of which can impact eye health.
  • If you have diabetes, you should have your eyes checked every year

Your sight cannot be taken for granted.  It is time to LOVE YOUR EYES!

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Bahamas News

Thirteen new BREAST CANCER patients for TCI in 2021; over 2% are males

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#TurksandCaicos, October 8, 2021 – The National Cancer Society needs our support and they need it now.  For two consecutive years, due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, the major fundraising events held to support its work have had to be cancelled due to mass gathering restrictions and other public health precautions.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Cancer Society had to cancel our usual fundraising events from last year up to now. As a Non-Profit Organization, we are totally dependent on funding from our various scheduled events throughout the year and rely on the goodwill and generosity of private corporations, businesses, financially abled persons and the general public to keep us afloat,” said Veronica Rigby, President of the National Cancer Society in her Breast Cancer Awareness Month message.

The NCS, during this 2021 Breast Cancer Awareness month is appealing to residents for a monetary donation to keep their mission on track.

“With patients’ numbers going up each year we are truly grateful for the support we get. We hope that those who are able to help, can donate to the NCS so that we can continue to assist persons who need us most. Thank you to ALL who continuously support us and our mission.”

President Veronica Rigby reminded that one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime; men can also develop breast cancer, although this is rare but not for these islands.

“Currently in the TCI, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer.  Statistics show that from January to December 2020, the total number of registered breast cancer cases in the country was 127.  Total deaths recorded in 2020 were two.”

Statistics also show that from January to September 2021 the total number of registered breast cancer cases rose to 140 patients, an increase of 13 cases.”

The National Cancer Society President explained, this number includes “male and female; there are 137 female patients and 3 male patients.”

“We know that hearing the words “you have cancer” can be terrifying and frightening. Just know that you can reach out to us and along with your family, we will offer you the support and inspiration you will need to help you get through your cancer journey.

For 17 years, the NCS has been assisting cancer patients, their families and our survivors with financial, spiritual, practical, physical and emotional support through our free cancer services. We support individuals with breast cancer and every other type of cancer, from diagnosis to survivorship.”

So far this year, one breast cancer patient has died.

“October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is a worldwide annual campaign to increase awareness and to promote regular screening and early detection of breast cancer. Early detection includes doing monthly breast self-exams and scheduling regular breast mammograms.

The National Cancer Society theme for this years’ Breast Cancer Awareness Month is “Your Fight Is Our Fight.”

The Turks and Caicos Islands National Cancer Society is a non-profit organization.

 

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