Saturday 14 December, 2019

Yellow fever travel restrictions to begin next week

Beginning next week, travelers coming from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Suriname will be required to show documentation in their respective countries proving that they have been vaccinated against yellow fever before they are allowed to travel to this country.

Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh said this has become necessary in order to prevent an outbreak of the virus in Trinidad and Tobago.

The virus normally spreads in what is known as a jungle or sylvatic cycle, with transmission between mosquitoes and monkeys.

It is common among red howler monkeys native to T&T forests.

Deyalsingh said while most citizens of this country are vaccinated against yellow fever from a very young age, there are still thousands of people who are yet to be immunised.

He said the figure could be as much as 65,000 people and he encouraged them to visit a health centre to be vaccinated.

The Health Minister added that the people most at risk of contracting yellow fever are those who go into the forests where infected monkeys may reside. 

He said it was, therefore, imperative that hikers, farmers, hunters and other people visiting or living near the forests be vaccinated. 

Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) Executive Director James Hospedales noted that there has not been an outbreak of yellow fever in T&T since 1979. 

The Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) has advised that booster doses of the yellow fever vaccine are no longer necessary as one dose provides lifetime immunisation.

People planning to travel to affected countries are advised to be vaccinated at least 10 days before travelling, provided that they have never been vaccinated for yellow fever before.

The Ministry has also advised that there are certain groups of people who should not get the vaccine. This includes pregnant women, very young children and people with egg allergies. 

People falling under these groups are advised to take necessary precautions to prevent mosquito bites.

The Ministry is also urging the public to take measures to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes.

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