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New COVID boosters get EMERGENCY USE thumbs up



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



#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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Bahamas News

MOHW Continues Measures to Fight against Dengue



NASSAU, The Bahamas – The Minister of Health and Wellness the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville led a team of health officials and technical experts during a National Press Conference on the Dengue outbreak in the country.

And, the ministry also confirmed the death of a nine-year-old boy from the mosquito borne illness, and updated on ongoing methods to mitigate the spread of the disease.

The press conference was held at the Ministry of Health and Wellness on Tuesday, September 12, 2023– the second since the outbreak.

Also present were: The Hon. Vaughn Miller, Minister of The Environment and Natural Resources; the Hon. Zane Lightbourne, Minister of State, Ministry of The Environment and Natural Resources; Dr. Felicia Balfour-Greenslade, Head of the National Communicable Disease Surveillance Unit; Dr. Aubynette Rolle, Managing Director, Public Hospitals Authority; Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Pearl McMillan; Dr. Philip Swann, Registrar; and representatives of the Department of Environmental Health Services (DEHS).

At the time of the press conference, 88 cases of Dengue Fever were confirmed – the majority in New Providence, 80; 6 in Grand Bahama; 1 in The Berry Islands, and 1 in Exuma.  The latter two had a history of travel from New Providence.

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. Symptoms typically begin three to fourteen days after infection. And, these may include a high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains, and a skin itching and rash.

Dengue is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Hence, the DEHS is asking the public to ensure no water receptacles such as bin covers; tyres are around their properties, which can turn into breeding ground for the vector. Moreover, the DEHS has mounted a “Fight The Bite” flash clean-up campaign as a form of mitigation.

Another measure being used by the DEHS is fogging in a half-mile perimeter of all suspected and confirmed areas. All properties within a half mile radius of every suspected or confirmed cases has been visited and physically examined for the presence of mosquito larva, and for water bearing containers.  Where they exist, they have been discarded, overturned or treated.

The National Reference Lab is carrying out all testing for Dengue.

Dr. Darville also informed that all hospitals and clinics are on “high alert” as “we begin to up our game in our fight against Dengue.”

He added, “Our teams have been educated and trained to look for cases that are potentially dengue cases, activate immediately, go into the necessary medical history and communicate directly with our surveillance unit who works very closely with the Department of Environmental Health.

“So, it’s a system that incorporates many healthcare professionals at the Family Island clinics at our hospitals as well as in the community to alert through education.”

Dr. Darville confirmed that the ministry is not considering bringing in dengue vaccines because Dengue Fever is not an endemic disease in The Bahamas.

“We reached out to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to give us advice on the possibility of vaccines and based on what’s being discussed, we believe not being an endemic area sort of excludes The Bahamas from a national vaccination programme for Dengue,” he explained.

The country has learned “a lot” from the last two Dengue outbreaks in 2011 and 2014, Dr. Darville said.

Most people diagnosed with dengue fever have type three of the virus — a form of the disease that could cause severe illness if they previously had the first two serotypes of the virus.

Regarding the death of the nine-year-old boy, Dr McMillan said he presented with a viral type illness “but did not continue with the care that was provided and unfortunately, he succumbed to the illness.  We later got the results back and we know that it was dengue.”

State Minister for Environment Lightbourne reported that teams will be deployed to the Family Islands this week to start fogging exercises as part of its mosquito control programme.

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Caribbean News

Health Ministry Intensifies Efforts to Prevent Dengue Outbreak



KINGSTON, September 15 (JIS):With an almost five-fold increase in suspected and confirmed cases of dengue fever, the Ministry of Health and Wellness has ramped up measures to prevent an outbreak of the mosquito-borne disease.

Portfolio Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, in his address at a press conference on Wednesday (September 13) at his New Kingston offices, reported that as of Monday (September 11), there were 316 suspected, presumed and confirmed dengue cases.

“For us, it represents a concern… clearly not a panic, but a concern because it is almost a five-fold increase when compared to the corresponding period in 2022 where 65 cases were reported,” the Minister said.

He noted that a total of 39 positive cases have been identified. Of these cases, 38 were identified as dengue serotype two and one as dengue serotype four. Type two has not predominated in the population since 2010, the Minister pointed out.

“The significance of this is it heightens the risk of a possible outbreak,” he said.All parishes have had dengue reported, and confirmed cases were detected in Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Thomas, St. Catherine, Westmoreland, Portland and St. Ann. Currently, parts of St. Thomas, Kingston and St. Andrew and St. Catherine have the highest dengue activities.

Of the 39 confirmed cases of dengue, a total of 20 are among persons in the five to14 age group.

“And so, part of the call from the Ministry of Health and Wellness is to encourage parents to treat children who have a fever with paracetamol and to avoid aspirin and aspirin-like medications such as ibuprofen,” the Minister advised.

Noting that the last dengue outbreak was in 2019, Dr. Tufton called on Jamaicans to effect the “traditional response” which is to search for and destroy mosquito breeding sites in their immediate surroundings.

Furthermore, Dr. Tufton informed that the Ministry has enhanced its vector controlprogramme, and additional funding of $200 million has been provided by the National Health Fund (NHF) to support activities like drain-cleaning in areas where the vector index is highest.

He said there will also be an allocation to municipal authorities through the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development.

“We also commenced inspections in schools in the summer holidays leading up to the reopening of classes. This is expected to continue through to the end of this month along with national stakeholder meetings for external partners and collaborators,” Dr. Tufton added.

Furthermore, he noted that approximately 500 temporary vector control workers have been engaged since the enhanced programme commenced and there are approximately 60 vector vehicles available across the country to facilitate intensified activities.

There is adequate stock of insecticides in case of an outbreak and replacement supplies are being procured. In addition, fogging has intensified, with activities extended to seven days per week. Officers are now being asked to work on Saturdays and Sundays to revisit areas that are not accessible during the week owing to the absence of homeowners.

“The fogging is a big part of the response, but I will emphasise that fogging only takes care of the situation in a temporary way if breeding sites continue to exist, which is why we have to look for, search and destroy these breeding sites,” the Minister said.

Persons are again being asked to call their respective parish health departments to request fogging in their areas, as necessary.

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