– says Ministry not administering to those within timeframe
“It isn’t unlikely for someone to receive a yellow fever vaccination certificate to travel without first receiving the vaccine,” said Junior Minister of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings. Her disclosure was premised on the fact that if an individual would have received the yellow fever vaccine within the past 10 years but would have misplaced their vaccination card they could be eligible for a travel certificate.
The Minister’s remarks yesterday came on the heels of allegations raised by former Minister of Health under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, that he had received complaints of persons being afforded travel certificates without the requisite vaccination. “People who have contacted me claim there are certain persons who have been provided with yellow fever cards without the actual vaccination in order to accommodate their travel. This is a dangerous situation and the Ministry of Public Health needs to investigate this dangerous practice, if, in fact, it is true,” Dr. Ramsammy revealed in a statement disseminated to the media.
In fact in that very missive the former Minister disclosed that “Information is that persons are being turned away from the Ministry of Health and from health institutions because of the shortage of yellow fever vaccines. It appears that the Ministry of Public Health has only an emergency supply and only accommodates some persons who have travel documents. But the emergency supply is being dispensed only to certain people, not to all persons with travel documents. According to the Ministry, those with “essential” travel needs are being accommodated. Those who have been denied the yellow fever vaccine, claim if you know the right person you might be able to get an emergency yellow fever vaccination.”
But Minister Cummings yesterday categorically asserted that the accusation that persons are being afforded the vaccine based on the notion of who they know couldn’t be further from the truth. She noted that while in fact the yellow fever vaccine is currently in short supply, the Ministry has reserved its limited stock for only those who require it. “Only if persons have not had the vaccine in the past 10 years those are the ones who are eligible for the vaccine. We are not giving the vaccine ‘willy nilly’ because it is in short supply we wouldn’t give it to somebody if we can substantiate that you would have had it within the 10-year timeframe and that has been recommended by the Pan American Health Organisation,” Minister Cummings assured.
The Minister disclosed though that the Ministry’s administering of the vaccine has not been without some challenges. She revealed that there have been occasions that foreign nationals were able to infiltrate the system and receive yellow fever vaccines from the Ministry’s limited stock. But according to Minister Cummings, measures are apace to address this issue. “We have been in discussion with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we are looking to ensure that is dealt with,” the Minister said as she considered that the limited supply of yellow fever vaccines is not unique to Guyana but rather a global situation.
It was this development that had caused the Ministry to adopt the tactic of encouraging persons to safeguard their yellow fever cards or at least recall the health facility they would have received their vaccination so that they can receive a replacement card.
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.
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