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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.

 

Bahamas News

COVID-19 TRAVEL RISK ADVISORY RATING INCREASED FOR THE BAHAMAS

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#TheBahamas, May 24, 2022 – The Ministry of Health & Wellness advises the public that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised that the COVID-19 Travel Health Advisory for the Bahamas will be moved from level two (2) moderate to level three (3) high.

The CDC level three (3) rating advises international travelers to be up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines before coming to The Bahamas.  It also advises that even if COVID19 vaccines are up to date there may still be a risk for getting and spreading COVID-19.  Proper mask wearing for anyone two (2) years or older is recommended for indoor public spaces and requirements for this country should be followed.

Bahamians and residents are urged to continue to follow the COVID-19 safety protocols which help to limit the spread of the virus.  Persons can also guard themselves from severe COVID-19 infection by getting the COVID-19 vaccine, 1st and 2nd boosters and extended series doses for persons who are moderately to severely immunocompromised.  Appointments can be made online at vax.gov.bs or walk-ins are welcomed at vaccination sites.

Persons with mobility challenges may request a home visit by emailing vax242.mobile@gmail.com.

 

Release: BIS

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Ministry of Health Provides an Update on Monkeypox

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#TurksandCaicos, May 23, 2022 – The Ministry of Health and Human Services has been carefully monitoring reports of monkeypox which have been increasing and are being reported in multiple countries across Europe (Spain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Sweden), the US, Canada and Australia.  12 countries which are not endemic for monkeypox, so far have reported at least 92 confirmed cases with 28 pending investigations.  More cases are likely to be reported as surveillance expands.

Although no cases have been reported in the Caribbean, it is important that persons are aware of the situation as it continues to evolve.

Monkeypox is a viral illness and is found in a number of countries in Central and West Africa.  The more recent news of spread to countries without known endemic disease is unusual.  Cases may occur in persons who have travelled from Nigeria or who have been in contact with persons with the confirmed illness.  Cases which have been reported since May 14 2022, have largely had no history of travel.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has announced that the total number of monkeypox cases confirmed in England since 6 May is 20.  The UKHSA initially identified one case of monkeypox on 7th May 2022 in an individual with a history of recent travel to Nigeria.  Subsequently, additional infections have been identified, some of which have been linked and others which have been unrelated.  This spread as well as the occurrence of cases in Europe and other countries has suggested the possibility of community spread.   Active investigations are ongoing in countries which have identified cases including contact tracing, testing isolation etc. in order to prevent further spread.

The World Health Organization (WHO), held an emergency meeting on Friday 20th May 2022 to discuss the monkeypox outbreak.  WHO is working with affected countries in order to expand disease surveillance to find and support people who may be affected, and to provide guidance on how to manage the disease.

It is expected that more cases will be identified through surveillance with the possibility of additional countries being affected.

TCI residents returning from, or going to, countries where cases have been identified, are urged to be aware of the signs of infection and to seek medical help if they think they may be at risk.

 How the virus spreads

Monkeypox does not spread easily between people.  The virus spreads through close contact with an infected animal (rodents are believed to be the primary animal reservoir for transmission to humans), humans, or materials contaminated with the virus.  Human-to-human transmission occurs through large respiratory droplets and by direct contact with body fluids or lesion material.  Respiratory droplets generally cannot travel more than a few feet, so prolonged face-to-face contact is required.

The virus enters the body through broken skin (even if not visible), the respiratory tract, or the mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth).

Person-to-person spread is uncommon, but may occur through:

  • contact with clothing or linens (such as bedding or towels) used by an infected person
  • direct contact with monkeypox skin lesions or scabs
  • coughing or sneezing of an individual with a monkeypox rash

Animal-to-human transmission may occur through a bite or scratch, preparation of wild game (in areas where the virus is present in animals such as Central and West Africa), and direct or indirect contact with body fluids or lesion material.

Individuals, particularly those who are gay, bisexual or MSM, are urged to be alert to any unusual rashes or lesions on any part of their body, especially their genitalia, and to contact a health services if they have concerns.

Monkeypox has not previously been described as a sexually transmitted infection, though it can be passed on by direct contact during sex. It can also be passed on through other close contact with a person who has monkeypox or contact with clothing or linens used by a person who has monkeypox.

 Symptoms

The incubation period is the duration/time between contact with the infected person and the time that the first symptoms appear. The incubation period for monkeypox is between 5 and 21 days.

Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.

Within 1 to 2 days a rash can develop, often beginning on the face, then spreading to other parts of the body including the genitals.

The rash changes and goes through different stages – it can look like chickenpox or syphilis, before finally forming a scab which later falls off.

The illness tends to be mild and self-limiting within 2-4 weeks, however it can in some cases be severe particularly in persons with weakened immune systems and children. In some cases, affected persons may die.

 Treatment

Treatment for monkeypox is mainly supportive. The illness is usually mild and most of those infected will recover within a few weeks without treatment.

There is no specific vaccine for monkeypox, however, vaccines used against smallpox can be used for both pre and post exposure and is up to 85% effective in preventing monkeypox. People vaccinated against smallpox in childhood may experience a milder disease.

Anyone with unusual rashes or lesions on any part of their body, especially their genitalia, is advised to visit their health care provider, particularly anyone who; 1) traveled to countries where monkeypox cases have been reported 2) reports contact with a person who has a similar rash or received a diagnosis of confirmed or suspected monkeypox, or 3) is a man who has had close or intimate in-person contact with other men in the past month.

As the virus does not usually spread easily between people and the risk to the general public is expected to be low, however the public is advised to monitor the situation as it develops and obtain information from credible sources. The MOH should be notified of any suspected cases.

The Ministry of Health will continue to monitor developments and provide updates accordingly.

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MOSQUITO PREVENTION

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#TurksandCaicos, May 19, 2022 – Due to the recent rainfall throughout the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Environmental Health Department (EHD) hereby advises residents, home owners, apartment owners and businesses to remove all debris & refuse/garbage from their premises and dispose appropriately at the public landfill/solid waste disposal sites on your respective island. The removal of debris & refuse/garbage from your premises will reduce mosquito breeding and prevent mosquito borne and other vector borne diseases such as Dengue fever.

As the Vector Control Unit of the Environmental Health Department continues to monitor and treat mosquito breeding sites, home owners, apartment owners and business owners are advised to treat standing water on their premises by using cooking oil or any other environmentally friendly oils to prevent mosquito breeding.

It is anticipated that mosquito populations and activities will increase over the coming weeks and it is important to remind residents that mosquito control is a shared responsibility. Residents and businesses can help reduce the growth and reproduction of mosquitoes in and around their homes, businesses and communities by taking the following precautionary measures:

  • Check around buildings for anything that could hold water, inspect your home and yard weekly
  • Turn containers over or cover them
  • Get rid of or cover old tires
  • Properly dispose of all garbage/refuse
  • Cover boats, children’s pools, etc.
  • Clean rain gutters and make sure they are flowing properly
  • Check screens for holes
  • Tightly cover water drums and rain barrels

For further information, contact the Environmental Health Department via telephone numbers 649-338-2143/44

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