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TCI Health Launches COVID Booster Shot program

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#TurksandCaicos, October 6, 2021 – The Turks and Caicos Islands launches its COVID-19 vaccine booster programme commencing on Monday 4th October 2021.  This comes following the approval by Cabinet, of the COVID-19 Booster Vaccine Strategy which was submitted by the Ministry of Health for consideration.

Members of Cabinet including the Governor, Deputy Governor, Honorable Premier, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health were in strong support of the vaccine booster strategy which will provide greater protection to those vulnerable individuals within the country who had previously been fully vaccinated more than six months ago and who are most at risk of severe effects of the disease.

The strategy is based upon the UK guidelines and focuses on priority groups who would benefit from a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. These groups are as follows;

1) Chronic non-communicable diseases clients

2) Elderly – Adults 50 years and over

3) Health care and frontline workers

4) Caregivers of the vulnerable

All persons in the groups listed above would have to have completed the two-dose series more than 6 months ago to be eligible for the booster dose of the vaccine. Eligible persons should reach out to their health care providers to schedule their booster dose.

The booster vaccine programme rolled out in the UK on 20.9.2021 and in the USA on 24.9.2021. On 9th September, Dr June Raine, Chief Executive of the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency), which regulates medicines, medical devices and blood components for transfusion in the UK, issued the following statement; “We know that a person’s immunity may decline over time after their first vaccine course. I am pleased to confirm that the COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer and AstraZeneca can be used as safe and effective booster doses. This is an important regulatory change as it gives further options for the vaccination programme, which has saved thousands of lives so far. The regulatory decision followed a careful review of available data on safety and effectiveness of booster or supplementary vaccine doses by the MHRA and the independent Commission on Human Medicines (CHM), which advises the government.”

The TCI is currently progressing on its fifth tranche of the vaccine which was received from the UK and anticipates the receipt of additional doses of the vaccine to support the ongoing roll out of the vaccine to all eligible residents as well as the booster programme.

The vaccine is critical to the ongoing national response to the COVID19 pandemic. The vaccines are safe and can prevent severe illness requiring hospitalization. All eligible persons are encouraged to get vaccinated to continue protecting themselves, their loved ones and the wider community. All eligible persons who are unvaccinated are encouraged to take the vaccine.

 

Caribbean News

Yellow Fever Outbreak in Region and Beyond, Travellers Warned

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer 

 

#YellowFever#Caribbean, April 10, 2024 – Reports say there is an outbreak of Yellow fever in the Caribbean according to the Department of Health and official government advice website, Travel Health Pro, and travelers are being warned to be vigilant. The authorities say the outbreak is also in parts of Africa, and Central and South America.

Guyana and Peru so far have seen two cases. Brazil reports the disease in monkeys, an indication that it is spreading across the ccounty. Colombia has seen 3 cases.

In South America, between January 1 and March 18 2024, there have been seven confirmed cases, four fatal.

Yellow fever is spread by mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti (Linnaeus) and can cause potentially fatal hemorrhagic illness. Fortunately, it can be prevented with vaccination and so the World Health Organisation (WHO) is advising people ages nine months and older, traveling to the affected areas, to get vaccinated.

 

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Children and Teens Vaping, Royal TCI Police say “IT IS NOT SAFE!”

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Dana Malcolm 
Staff Writer 

Vape use is rising in the Turks and Caicos Islands with even primary school students now partaking according to an exclusive policing interview with the Magnetic Media News Team on March 25th.

”Over the past few months, there has indeed been a noticeable increase in vaping activity within our local communities including youth as young as eight years old. This statement is supported by data collected from various sources within our health department and externally,” said Sgt. Huntley Forbes of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force (RTCIPF) Community Policing Unit.

Vaping is the use of an electronic battery operated device to inhale tobacco. Often the devices are reusable with users able to switch out flavored inserts.

Forbes was speaking to Magnetic Media following the March 24 launch of an anti-vaping video, featuring top students, athletes and other young people alongside Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, Former Premier, and representatives of the Community Policing Unit with the major message “DON’T VAPE!”.

The campaign was a partnership between the Bethany Baptist Youth Group and the Community Policing Department.

Forbes told the team that thanks to data from healthcare providers, and emergency room visits vaping related issues such as respiratory problems and nicotine addiction were available and showing the increase prompting immediate action.

“This rise is concerning due to the potential health risks associated with vaping, especially among younger demographics,” the Sergeant explained.

Vaping was billed as a ‘safe’ option to smoking in the past but health experts now agree that while it might be slightly less dangerous, it is not a safe alternative and should never be promoted as such.

The American Heart Association says most of these e-cigarettes deliver nicotine, some contain a higher dosage than cigarettes, which is not only highly addictive but is known to harm the developing brains of teens, kids and fetuses in women who vape. In addition, vapes can contain cancer causing chemicals.

Forbes says the team is planning a multi-faceted approach to the increase.

“We will collaborate with local health departments, community organizations, schools, and other stakeholders to gather and share information about vaping-related health concerns. By working together, we can develop comprehensive strategies to address these emerging issues.”

He also detailed the plans that will be enacted with immediacy:

Education and awareness campaigns: Community Policing will conduct educational campaigns to raise awareness about the health risks associated with vaping, particularly among younger demographics.

Support for cessation programs: Community Policing will support efforts to provide resources and support for individuals who want to quit vaping. This may include connecting individuals with the Substance Abuse department Forbes explained.

Educational materials: The RTCIPF will develop and distribute educational materials, such as brochures, posters, billboards to inform the public about the dangers of vaping.

Training for officers is the final facet of the response and Forbes says Police officers will receive training on recognizing vaping-related issues, interacting with individuals who vape, and enforcing relevant regulations.

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AUTISM AWARENESS DAY 2024: ADVOCATING FOR INCLUSIVITY AND UNDERSTANDING

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April 2nd marks Autism Awareness Day, a global initiative aimed at raising awareness, acceptance, and understanding of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Every year, the Turks & Caicos Islands’ join other organizations around the world in promoting inclusivity and celebrating the unique strengths of individuals with autism.

According to the latest statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 1 in 100 children worldwide has ASD, with prevalence rates continuing to rise. Despite these numbers, many individuals with autism still face stigma, discrimination, and barriers to accessing education, employment, and healthcare.
In the Turks and Caicos Islands, we are proud to join the global movement to promote autism awareness and acceptance. As part of our efforts, we will be hosting several events throughout the month of April:

1. Fridays in Blue: Every Friday in April, we are encouraging the public to wear blue in support of spreading awareness.

2. Fun Day for Special Education Children: On Friday, April 26th, special education children from all schools in Providenciales are invited to participate in a day of fun-filled activities at the Snap Center. This event aims to provide a supportive and inclusive environment where children can socialize, learn, and thrive.

3. Autism Awareness “Rainbow” Walk: On Saturday, April 27th, we will be organizing an Autism Awareness Walk in Providenciales. This community event aims to raise awareness about autism and promote acceptance and understanding. Participants will walk together to show support for individuals with autism and their families. Upon registration, each participant will receive an autism awareness t-shirt to commemorate the occasion.

Director of Special Education Needs Services, Dr. Anya Malcolm-Gibbs, shared her thoughts on the importance of Autism Awareness Daty: “Autism Awareness Day serves as a reminder that every individual, regardless of their neurodiversity, deserves to be accepted and included in society. Care for our children with autism needs to be accompanied by actions on a community and country level to ensure greater accessibility, inclusion, and support.”

The Minister of Education, Hon. Rachel Taylor, also emphasized the significance of promoting autism awareness and acceptance: “Education is the key to fostering a more inclusive and understanding society. By raising awareness about autism and embracing neurodiversity in our schools and communities, we can create a more compassionate and supportive world for individuals with autism.”

We invite members of the media and the community to join us in celebrating Autism Awareness Day and supporting individuals with autism and their families.

For more information about our events and initiatives, please contact the Department of Special Education Needs Services at sens@gov.tc , also see the attached flyer for the free rainbow walk registration.

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