Health Sister, Hazel Buckmire-Austin, administering the H1N1??vaccine to Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joy St. John(Image: Donnay Deane)

The Influenza A (H1N1) vaccine is here.

Twenty thousand doses of the Influenza A (H1N1) Vaccine Panenza, procured through a purchasing arrangement with the Pan-American Health Organization, were received by the Health Ministry this week.

This was stated today by Minister of Health, Donville Inniss at a press conference at the Ministry’s Jemmotts Lane Headquarters.?? He noted that the vaccine, which was received on January 20, would be offered to certain groups.

Mr. Inniss said: "In an effort to ensure the best use of this limited quantity, this vaccine will be offered to certain groups of persons, whose selection was based on epidemiological evidence to ensure the greatest benefits to our country".

He added that over the next four weeks a campaign would be launched to ensure that persons designated with priority status are able to access the vaccine.??

The groups to be targeted will comprise individuals whose medical condition has placed them at higher risk for influenza-related complications. These include pregnant?? women, persons with diabetes, heart disease, sickle cell anaemia or lung conditions such as asthma; people with conditions which weaken the immune system and those who are morbidly obese.

Healthcare workers in both the public and private sectors; frontline staff of the air and seaports, members of the Royal Barbados Police Force, the Barbados Defence?? Force and the Barbados Fire Service, will also be given the vaccine.

Meanwhile, the Health Minister disclosed that recent surveillance data (Monday of this week) had confirmed that one more Barbadian, who fell into one of the high risk categories, had been hospitalised because of the Influenza A virus.

While noting that the individual had now been discharged after responding well to treatment, he urged all persons within the target groups "to come forward and take advantage of the opportunity to obtain the vaccine."

The vaccine will be offered to health workers from next Monday, January 25 and?? other target groups from Monday February 1, at polyclinics. It will be administered by the Ministry’s public health team.

In addition, private sector health care workers will be offered the vaccine at two other locations, The Elcourt Clinic at Maxwell in Christ Church and the FMH Emergency Clinic at Belleville, St. Michael. ??Health teams will also be visiting other selected sites to vaccinate identified persons.

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