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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.

 

Health

How to Manage Your Diabetes in Extreme Summer Heat  

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How weather can affect your blood sugar  

 

We often look forward to a change of seasons and warmer temperatures. But if you have diabetes, you may be especially sensitive to the hot weather of summer.

Extreme heat can affect your blood sugar control. If you use insulin or your blood sugars aren’t effectively controlled, you could be at higher risk during the summer months. Worsening blood sugar control is often the main concern, and depending on your level of activity, developing low blood sugars may also be a concern.

If you’ve had complications from diabetes that have damaged the nerves to sweat glands, you may be unable to sweat properly. This can become serious as outdoor temperatures rise, leading to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Extreme temperatures can also damage your medications and testing equipment, says Dr. Marwan Hamaty, endocrinologist at Cleveland Clinic, Ohio. “I always remind my patients to take precautions to protect themselves and their supplies during both winter and summer.”

He says it’s important to get a handle on your blood sugar control before you engage in summer fun. “If your blood sugars are mostly higher than 250 mg/dl, I recommend improving your blood sugar control before engaging in heavy physical activity — regardless of the climate and the temperature, as recommended by the American Diabetes Association.”

Dr. Hamaty also advises that the extreme heat of summer affects blood sugar levels. How the heat affects your levels depends on what you’ve eaten, whether you’re well-hydrated and your activity level.

If the heat and your activity make you sweat a lot, you may become dehydrated, leading to a rise in glucose levels. “If you become dehydrated, your blood glucose levels will rise. This can lead to frequent urination, which then leads to further dehydration and even higher blood sugar levels — a kind of vicious cycle,” he says.

Things can become even worse if the treatment includes insulin: “Dehydration reduces blood supply to your skin and, therefore, the ability of your body to absorb the insulin you’ve injected is reduced,” he says.

Most types of insulin can tolerate temperatures up to 93-95 degrees Fahrenheit. Exposing your supply to anything higher than this will make the medication quickly break down. Be careful and pay attention to any insulin you’re carrying with you in the heat.

While it’s fine to store insulin and glucagon in the refrigerator, hot temperatures (as well as freezing temperatures) will cause the medications to degrade, making them ineffective and unusable. High temperatures can have a negative effect on other medications and diabetes management supplies too. Don’t forget about the weather’s effect on things like test strips and monitoring devices. When the mercury begins to rise, these items can change in their effectiveness.

Physical activity usually causes blood sugar levels to decrease, reducing your need for insulin. The sudden addition of exercise may put you at an increased risk for low blood sugars.

Therefore, if you’re active in extreme heat, know that you’re at high risk for both low and high blood sugars. This means you should take extra precautions and monitor your sugar levels before exercising.

“I advise my patients to maintain warm skin and adjust insulin dosage prior to engaging in physical activity because insulin adjustment could vary significantly,” says Dr. Hamaty. “But don’t allow the heat to keep you indoors. It’s OK to participate in outdoor activities and enjoy all types of weather as long as you take a few precautions.”

Dr. Hamaty also suggests seeking input from your doctor regardless of the temperature before adding physical activity to your routine.

Follow these tips to help manage your diabetes while enjoying the outdoors:

  1. Drink plenty of water.Staying hydrated is important for everyone during physical activity, and it’s especially critical if you have diabetes.
  2. Avoid becoming dehydrated.Carry small bottles of water or low-calorie electrolyte-replenishing sports drinks in a backpack or on a belt while you’re hiking or playing sports.
  3. Adjust your insulin as needed.Ask your provider or diabetes educator how you should adjust your insulin (and sometimes eating extra carbohydrates) before exercising. Typically, your first few doctor’s visits focus on urgent issues, such as getting diabetes under control. Ask about how to adjust your insulin so you can prepare to be physically active.
  4. Test your blood sugar levels frequently.Since hot temperatures can cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate, it’s a good idea to test more often. That way, you can take appropriate and immediate action to keep your levels stable. You should continue frequent monitoring for several hours after you’re done with your workout or other activity. That’s because the effects of activities on blood sugars usually last for a longer period of time.
  5. Keep items to treat low blood sugar with you. This includes glucose tabs or glucose gel. If you’re at high risk for very low blood sugar (if you have frequent low blood sugar or had very low blood sugar previously), you should also have a glucagon kit available.
  6. Take some snacks with you.Some snacks can serve as a meal replacement while others help prevent low blood sugar. Discuss possible options with your dietitian.
  7. Protect your medication and supplies. Take proactive steps to protect your insulin, glucagon kit and other supplies before you head outdoors, regardless of the temperature. Consider a car cooler that plugs into a 12-volt car adapter to keep your supplies at the proper temperature. This will keep the temperature stable for some time. If you’re going away from your car for an extended period, you’ll need to take your supplies along with you. If you are on insulin pump, be sure to protect your insulin pump from high temperatures. Depending on the situation and how long your activity will be, you might simply need to monitor your glucose more often. In certain circumstances (if it’s extremely hot or you’re out for an extended amount of time) consider using a long-acting insulin temporarily along with meal insulin injection instead of an insulin pump.
  8. Avoid sunburn. You can get sunburned while skiing on the slopes or while hiking in the summer. Sunburn stresses your body and can raise blood sugar levels. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen and wear protective eye gear.
  9. Finally, limit how much time you spend outside in extreme temperatures. “While I advise staying active during the peak winter or summer months, I also tell my patients to try to take advantage of outdoors activities when temperatures aren’t too extreme,” says Dr. Hamaty. By taking a few precautions, you can enjoy an active, healthy lifestyle in most any weather.

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Health

New COVID boosters get EMERGENCY USE thumbs up

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Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

September 19, 2023 – The old bivalent vaccines are out and a new 2023-24 formula for residents 6 months and over, has been approved for use by the US Centres for Disease Control (CDC). The emergency use authorization comes as the CDC tries to protect the population against the latest variants and flu season approaches.

The announcement came a day after the US Food and Drug Administration approved the shots.

These vaccines contain the XBB.1.5 component, one of the offshoots of the Omicron variant and should be ready in time for fall. But concern is being expressed not just in the United States but in the UK and other countries over the emergence of the variants Eris (EG.5) and Pirola (BA.2.86).

Though XBB.1.5 is no longer the most circulating variant, they are related and the FDA says the vaccine neutralizes them (including EG.5 and BA.2.86) efficiently.

Pirola, as the variant is referred to online, is being watched closely because it is extremely mutated.

“The public can be assured that these updated vaccines have met the agency’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality. We very much encourage those who are eligible to consider getting vaccinated,” they FDA said.

It means the older Moderna and Pfizer bivalents are no longer authorized for use in the country. The two manufacturers are also the only ones approved to distribute the newer doses.

Approval has also been granted in the UK for a new shot that targets XBB 1.5. but only Pfizer has secured that nod.

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Bahamas News

Eleuthera Medical Center Marks 5 Years, Private community clinic ‘grows with the demand’, adds Dental and Dermatology to slate of services

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#Eleuthera, The Bahamas, September 19, 2023 – A Family Island clinic that started with a vision to serve the community with the best in private medical care and wellness regardless of a patient’s financial standing celebrated its fifth anniversary this month, announcing new services it said were those most strongly requested by patients.

Eleuthera Medical Center (EMC), the flagship of Bahamas Wellness Health Systems, marked its anniversary adding dental and dermatology to its growing list of medical specialties that includes primary wellness, vision, gynecology and pediatrics. Some services are offered on an ongoing daily basis provided by physicians at one of Bahamas Wellness Health Systems (BWHS) four clinics, others are offered on a rotating basis by visiting medical specialists and associates on a regularly scheduled rotating basis.

“When we opened our doors to this clinic in 2018, we knew there was a need for full-time medical care and especially attention to wellness in Eleuthera,” said EMC and Bahamas Wellness Health Systems founder Dr. Arlington Lightbourne. “But we underestimated how appreciative the community would be that there were always physicians on call, that in the case of an emergency we could respond, that we provided an ambulance and emergency care saving patients from having to be airlifted to Nassau or beyond.”

Lightbourne said the years have not been without challenges.

“For nearly 18 months, we endured COVID, conducting testing outdoors, trying to keep our spirits strong and staff well so they could care for others and yet in a small community like Eleuthera where you know someone in everyone’s family it’s hard not to feel the pain and suffering others feel,” said Dr. Lightbourne. “But we doubled down and said we are here for the long haul and whatever the path is to provide the best in care, to make that care affordable and to improve the wellness of the community overall, that is the journey we are on, and it has been an incredibly rewarding one.”

To support that emphasis on wellness, the clinic located in the settlement of Palmetto Point adjacent to Governors Harbour in the heart of central Eleuthera, offers regularly scheduled lectures and town meetings with a nutritionist and wellness expert who is part of the team. Lightbourne’s interest in well-being stems from his work in Emergency Care at both PMH and Doctors Hospital where the vast number of cases he treated were the result of non-communicable diseases and conditions including heart attacks, high blood pressure and cancer related to lifestyle – poor diet high in fats and low in nutrition and lack of proper physical exercise.

Today, he said he is seeing more interest in preventative care, a sign that Bahamians learned from Covid and its aftermath that wellness matters.

“We have a brighter future ahead of us and I am proud of what we are doing in Eleuthera and our other clinics to make a difference in The Bahamas with careful diagnoses and individual attention to how people conduct their daily lives when it comes to their overall wellness,” said Lightbourne, now the deputy director of the Bahamas Medical Association and an authorized NHI provider.

BHWS also operates clinics in Nassau, Spanish Wells and Lower Bogue.

 

Photo Caption: The Hon. Clay Sweeting, MP, Central and South Eleuthera, welcomes the Bahamas Wellness Medical Center’s ambulance. He is pictured with Dr. Jessica Moss, Emergency Medicine Specialist and Vice President & Medical Director at Eleuthera Medical Center, and Dr. Arlington Lightbourne, founder of the expanding clinic, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary serving the community by adding dental and dermatology to its growing list of specializations.

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