Sunday 22 September, 2019

Flu vaccine safe, Medical Association assures

Rest assured, the flu vaccine offered by the Health Ministry is safe and effective in preventing unnecessary morbidity and mortality from Influenza.

The assurance comes from the Trinidad & Tobago Medical Association (T&TMA) in response to an article published in a daily newspaper on Wednesday which suggested that Vitamin C is more effective than a flu vaccine.

Following consultation with stakeholder groups and technical professionals, including the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Faculty of Medical Sciences UWI and the Paediatric Society of Trinidad and Tobago, the Association said vaccinations for influenza and other vaccine preventable diseases are safe, well tolerated and effective in the vast majority of the population.

“Vaccine adverse effects are rare; and the article in question fails to quantify how improbable and infrequent these side effects are, focusing instead on the potential range of rare events,” it added.

Noting that influenza cases are currently on the rise and are expected to intensify with the influx of visitors for Carnival, the Association noted that the vaccine especially benefits susceptible groups (children, the elderly, diabetics and immune-compromised persons).

It further noted that the Ministry’s vaccination policy targets vulnerable groups (age less than five or greater than 65, diabetics, asthmatics and persons with immuno-suppressive conditions) who are at highest risk of adverse flu outcomes.

Additionally, the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), at the Health Ministry has mechanisms in place to collect data on adverse events, possibly attributable to vaccination. The current vaccine, GC-flu, has been purchased and distributed by the World Health Organisation since 2012, with no adverse issues or deaths attributed to its use in our population.

The T&TMA is therefore urging citizens, especially those who require its protection most, not to be discouraged from taking the vaccines and to allow the EPI at the Ministry to continue its good work in preventing unnecessary morbidity and mortality from Influenza.

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