Not ready to vaccine port workers for swine flu- Health Minister

Last Updated on Thursday, 7 January 2016, 15:57 by Denis Chabrol

Health Minister Dr. George Norton said Thursday that the time was not ripe for port workers to be vaccinated against the potentially deadly swine flu virus that has already claimed the life of one Guyanese.

Speaking with reporters at Parliament Building before the start of the sitting of the National Assembly, he said the vaccines should not be given without good clinical justification.

“The vaccinations are not routinely done because of the adverse effect that the vaccines can have so unless we get that manifestation…It is just like the Ebola Virus, you could be exposed to it but so long as you are not showing any kind of manifestations we just observe you,” he said.

He said Guyana has access to Tamiflu vaccines but they would be administered only if there is a crisis or epidemic.

Since the confirmation of one case, a number of workers at the Ogle International Airport and the Cheddi Jagan International Airport have cited the need to be vaccinated as they are “front-line” workers.

Health Minister Dr. George Norton.

Health Minister Dr. George Norton.

He credited the media for creating a greater awareness about the disease. So far authorities have not distributed posters or handbills about the H1N1 swine flu virus whose symptoms include terrible sneezing and coughing.

The Health Minister described as “unfortunate”  the fact that the lone patient who was infected with the virus has died but he could not say conclusively what was the cause of death because persons, whose immune system (resistance ) has been compromised, could die from complications such as pneumonia.

The 50-year old man had recently returned from China via Trinidad and fallen ill before he was transferred overseas for continued medical treatment and care.

Norton acknowledged that Guyanese authorities “don’t have control over” porous borders and so persons were crossing to and from neighbouring countries at locations other than the official land border ports of entry such as Moleson Creek, Corentyne; Lethem, Rupununi and Charity, Pomeroon.