Jul 27, 2016 News
An increased demand by people to be safeguarded against Yellow Fever has resulted in a global shortage of the Yellow Fever vaccine.
This state of affairs has been confirmed by Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Shamdeo Persaud. But according to Dr. Persaud, there is a shortage of other vaccines as well. He did not specify the other vaccines that are available in limited supply.
But given the increasing demand for the Yellow Fever vaccine in particular, Dr. Persaud said that the Ministry has been seeking to judiciously administer the vaccine to travellers who are destined for countries that are at risk or have an outbreak of the disease.
There has been an outbreak of Yellow Fever in parts of Africa, thus prompting a requirement for the vaccine by countries that are at risk or where it is believed the disease is endemic.
Outbreaks have been reported in Angola and there are reports of the disease spreading to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, Nigeria, Mali, among others. Guyana and all of its neighbouring territories (Suriname, Brazil and Venezuela) have been listed as territories that have the ideal conditions to transmit the disease.
However, countries such as the United States, Canada, Europe and most of the Caribbean have not been identified as at risk.
Because of an admitted global shortage of the vaccine, Dr. Persaud said that not all travellers, heading to all destinations, will be eligible for the yellow fever vaccine. At the time of addressing the global shortage situation, Dr. Persaud assured that Guyana has sufficient doses for those travelling to the flagged countries.
This is in spite of the fact that many people have been flocking to the various locations to get their yellow fever vaccine. But Dr. Persaud noted that “we expect to get some more doses shortly but we still need to be guarded with our uptake of vaccines.” This publication was not able to confirm yesterday whether these additional doses have arrived.
Persons travelling are required to be vaccinated at least 10 days prior to their travel date.
Guyana has in place an immunisation programme which has been laudably recognised both national and internationally.
This immunisation programme entails the administration of the yellow fever vaccine to children as a priority. As such, Dr. Persaud said that the Ministry of Public Health has assigned the under one (Yellow Fever) vaccine outside of what is needed for those travelling. “All the under ones are catered for and we wouldn’t touch their doses,” Dr. Persaud insisted.
Since the reported outbreak the Ministry, within a two-week period, was able to administer more than 1,500 additional doses to persons desirous of travelling to flagged locations.
In addition to accessing the vaccine at the Ministry’s Brickdam office, persons can also access yellow fever vaccines at various health centres throughout the country. However, international travel certificates are available only at a few locations. These are the Ministry’s Brickdam, office, Region Two (Suddie Hospital), Region Six (New Amsterdam Hospital) Nine (Lethem Hospital) and the privately-operated St. Joseph Mercy Hospital.
While travel certificates for adults cost $1,000, no cost is attached to certificates for children below the age of 12.
Yellow Fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic disease transmitted by infected Aedes type mosquitoes. The yellow in the name refers to the jaundice that affects some patients. Symptoms of the disease include: fever, headache, jaundice, muscle pain, nausea, vomiting and fatigues. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a small portion of patients who contract the disease develop severe symptoms and approximately half of those die within seven to 10 days.
According to Dr. Persaud, Guyana has the right conditions for the disease to flourish. He pointed out that if only one person arrives from those countries where the outbreak is ongoing, Guyana could find itself in a great deal of problems. The incubation period for the disease is six days by which time persons can start to manifest symptoms.
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