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CARPHA doubles down; the Agency does not recommend Covid-19 vaccines for healthy children

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By Dana Malcolm & Deandrea Hamilton

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, February 15, 2022 – Do not use adult doses of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine for the vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 years of age, says The Caribbean Public Health Agency, CARPHA and now, the Agency is making a new announcement that it has not recommended use of the Pfizer vaccine in children because the WHO arm, responsible for emergency listing has not given Pfizer the green light.

CARPHA, with this second public statement on the subject in mere days, is obviously hesitant to throw its full weight behind administering the vaccine to all children under 12 years old.

“The WHO Strategic Group of Experts (SAGE) that advises on Immunization has recommended the use of the vaccine in children 5-11 years of age.  However, the approval of the product in full comes from a different group of experts called the World Health Organization Emergency Use Listing Prequalification Team. (EUL) This full product assessment is critical as it helps countries to be assured of the final vaccine product that may be registered in the country and used in children,” said CARPHA on Monday in a media statement.

Just last week came a stern warning in a press release that said CARPHA had not recommended the pediatric formulation. CARPHA noted that while uptake of the vaccine was critical in achieving maximum protection, there is a firm caution to Member States (which includes the Turks and Caicos Islands) against the use of any adult formulation of the vaccine on children.

Program manager of CARPHA, Dr. Rian Extavour said, “The possibility of errors in administering the vaccine dosage is of concern.”

Executive Director, Dr. Joy St. John also said, “Unless otherwise specified, Member States should continue adherence to recommendations for approved vaccines. This will help to ensure favourable benefits to individuals and communities.”

CARPHA is now doubling down on that message saying it matters to them that the prequalification team of the WHO looks at all aspects of the vaccine including: The composition; How it is made and where; How it is given (dispensed or administered); How it is packaged, and how it is to be stored.

It is unclear what is driving these messages but larger countries like the United Kingdom have approved the pediatric dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children only at the highest risk including those with learning disabilities and long-term conditions like diabetes. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization in the United Kingdom made the decision in December. No decision has been made for children who are not considered high risk.

The Turks and Caicos Islands Government has taken a different approach from the UK, giving approval for any child – healthy or immunocompromised – between the ages 5 to 11.

It makes Turks and Caicos one of the first and few in the region to do so.

Fellow Overseas Territory, Bermuda announced a decision – just last Tuesday – to use the pediatric doses; so too have Aruba (a part of the Dutch Caribbean) and the US Virgin Islands.

In terms of other British Overseas Territories, while Cayman does allow for vaccination of the 5 to 11 age group the child must be immunocompromised and have a letter from their doctor and in Gibraltar, vaccination of the age group is set for a March start but whether it will be for immunocompromised children only, is unstated at this time.

There is no information as yet on the direction on this step in the COVID response from other UKOTs: BVI or Monserrat.

Dr. Joy Saint John, Executive Director of CARPHA and Dr. Rian Extavour, CARPHA’s Program Manager are on the record as having long supported the operation procedure of the WHO  EUL which says the prequalification team which develops summaries and makes recommendations must first give safety approval based on its own findings.

There is, at this time “no science” or compelling evidence from the WHO or the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (UK) to support administering the pediatric dosage of COVID-19 vaccine to healthy children.

Caribbean News

CHTA President Praises Jamaica’s Hurricane Preparedness, Assures Ongoing Support

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KINGSTON, Jamaica– President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), Nicola Madden-Greig, has praised the strength of local and regional public-private sector partnerships, while congratulating tourism stakeholders across Jamaica for their strong level of preparedness in weathering the dangerous Category 4 Hurricane Beryl, which impacted the island this week.

“Jamaica was spared the worst of the hurricane and we have now returned to regular business operations,” said Madden-Greig, who rode out the storm at her office in Kingston. She reported that Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay and Ian Fleming International Airport in Ocho Rios opened today, while Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston will open on Friday, July 5, after minor repairs are completed.

“We have no reports of any guests being injured during the passage of the storm, and the majority of the hotels and the tourism industry in general have emerged unscathed,” Madden-Greig added.

However, she expressed concerns for the south coast of the island, where many local communities were impacted, along with several independent hotels and villa operations.

“We will be including these operators in our disaster relief efforts, particularly in the Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth area,” she noted, explaining however that she had little doubt that this resilient community will rebound in the shortest possible time.

The trade association leader was encouraged with the reports emanating from the Cayman Islands, which confirmed no major impact on the sector there. “We are thankful to God for sparing us for the most part, and we are now resolved to getting our industry back on track, while serving communities (especially those in the Grenadines) who are in dire need at this time,” said Madden-Greig.

Individuals, businesses and organizations that want to contribute to regional hurricane relief efforts may make a monetary donation at www.chtaef.com.

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CARICOM raising profile and priority of its Migration Policy; curbing challenges ‘a tall order’

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is committed to work with Member States and other stakeholders to implement a “forward-thinking regional migration policy,” according to its Assistant Secretary General, Alison Drayton.

Addressing the opening of a recent three-day workshop titled “Towards a Regional Approach to a Migration Policy in the Caribbean,” in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, she said it is evident that the Region has been facing, and will continue to face, various challenges that affect the lives and livelihoods of Caribbean citizens.

“Namely, due to Climate Change, which has amplified displacements and the need for persons to migrate from areas that threaten their livelihoods or limit their opportunities to prosper and provide for their families,” the ASG told the forum, adding that the Climate Change and natural disasters remain “key drivers of displacements in the Region.”

“With the frequency and magnitude of events likely to increase in the future, this has contributed to many regional States facing demographic decline, which has impacted their workforce, our younger population seeking job opportunities outside the Region, and many key sectors being negatively impacted,” she stated.

The CARICOM official underscored that tackling the challenges would be “a tall order,” hence the Regional body’s commitment that would help address various aspects of Regional migration and human mobility as determined by Member State priorities.

Lauding the Government of Trinidad and Tobago for hosting the workshop, and the and valuable technical contributions made by the United Nations (UN) Migration Group and financial contributions from the United States Department of State, the European Union, and the Inter-American Development Bank, she said  the their efforts have been significant.

The contribution made by International Organization for Migration (IOM), has advanced the policy, with provision of consultancies to coordinate the Community’s work through the Regional Approach to Migration Policy (RAMP) Steering Committee and development of the framework, she highlighted.

For Trinidad and Tobago’s National Security Minister, the Hon. Fitzgerald Hinds, his country is also committed to contributing to the development of a regional migration policy framework that reflects the priorities of the people of the Caribbean Community.

“As we embark on this journey together, let us harness the expertise, the insights and the experiences that we already have among us as we gather here today to shape the policy framework that is in front of us,” the Minister said, adding that the current migration realities “should prepare us for future challenges.”

The technical workshop brought together National Focal Points from the CARICOM Member States, and representatives of relevant regional and international organisations, building on IOM’s Migration Governance Indicator (MGI) assessments, and other consultations held with national Governments of CARICOM Member States in 2023.

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Government Earmarks $300M for Post-Hurricane Dengue Mitigation

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#Kingston, Jamaica, July 19, 2024 – The Government has earmarked $300 million to ramp up dengue mitigation activities, inclusive of fogging, treatment of mosquito breeding sites, removal of bulky waste and drain cleaning, in the aftermath of Hurricane Beryl.

Addressing the House of Representatives on Tuesday (July 16), Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, said the funds have been allocated to the Ministry of Health and Wellness, which will spearhead vector-control activities over the next six weeks.

He further informed that the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) and National Works Agency (NWA), “are technically involved in this dengue mitigation [exercise] by trying to clear the environmental conditions that would create the growth in the vector”.

Mr. Holness highlighted the potential for a significant increase in the dengue vector, the Aedes aegpyti mosquito, which breeds primarily in containers, consequent on  the hurricane’s passage.

“We know that many communities are being plagued by the increase in the mosquito population… and other vectors [such as] roaches, rats and flies. Therefore, the cleanup and removal and clearing of waterlogged areas is of critical importance,” he emphasised.

The Prime Minister noted that the hot summer conditions, along with rainfall, will further contribute to heightening the possibility of an increase in these vectors and the transmission of diseases.

As such, he appealed to Jamaicans to properly store water in covered containers and destroy mosquito breeding sites around their homes.

“I urge all homeowners who are storing water and… leaving the containers open, that an easy way to control the growth of the mosquito population in your households is to cover the containers,” Mr. Holness said.

He pointed out that the NSWMA will shortly announce a schedule for the removal of bulky waste from homes.

Prime Minister Holness further indicated that the NWA will be actively cleaning various gullies.

Dengue symptoms include fever, headache, and joint and muscle pains. These are often resolved through rest and adequate hydration along with the use of paracetamol to treat the accompanying fever.

 

Contact: Chris Patterson

Release: JIS

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