Although it was formerly valid for a 10-year period, Minister within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings, is assuring the public that the Yellow Fever Vaccine that persons would have been receiving in recent years will cover them for life.
She said that in the past persons were required to be vaccinated every 10 years but with the advancement of the vaccine it is now valid for a lifetime. The Minister’s remarks comes on the heels of concerns that some persons have been receiving yellow fever vaccination certificates to facilitate travel overseas without first receiving the vaccine.
Once an individual would have received the vaccine they will not require another dose but will however have to visit the Ministry or any other Ministry-authorised health facility to receive their certificates to travel to overseas territories.
According to reports there is currently an outbreak of yellow fever in neighbouring Brazil. Actually, according to former Minister of Health under the People’s Progressive Party Civic, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, the fact that vaccines are in short supply “is worrisome that many people travelling to countries which require yellow fever vaccine cards are having difficulties travelling because they are unable to obtain yellow fever vaccine. Particularly worrying is those persons who need to travel to Brazil,” asserted Dr. Ramsammy.
But Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Shamdeo Persaud, had told this publication that the Ministry was only affording vaccines to persons who have not been vaccinated in the past. This is in light of the fact, Dr. Persaud noted, that if a person has been vaccinated once, there is no need for a repeat. The foregoing notion has been substantiated by Minister Cummings.
The CMO, moreover, disclosed that persons, who would have lost their vaccination card, can visit the health facility where they were vaccinated in order to obtain a copy of their vaccination record.
“Those who know they have been vaccinated but don’t have their card as proof they can go back to the health centre where it was done…The records are kept there and they can obtain a copy which would then allow them to get the international certificate of vaccination,” Dr. Persaud explained.
It is the belief of the CMO that “more than 95 percent of the population has already received the Yellow Fever vaccine, so there is no gap really in terms of adult immunisation.” The main focus of the Ministry of Public Health is its infant immunisation programme, he added.
“We are still continuing the children’s programme, that is paramount to make sure that all the babies by 12 months or so receive their Yellow Fever vaccine because they need to be protected too in the event they are exposed,” Dr. Persaud asserted.
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 fatigue. According to WHO, a small portion of patients who contract the disease develops severe symptoms and approximately half of those die within seven to 10 days.
In light of the short supply of the vaccine, Minister Cummings disclosed earlier this week that “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.
The Global shortage according to the Minister had in fact resulted in individuals from nearby territories seeking to infiltrate the local health system to secure yellow fever vaccines too.
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