Swine flu vaccine further delayed

| 24/11/2009

(CNS): Cayman is unlikely to receive its first batch of Swine flu vaccine until the end of this year or possibly not until 2010. The UK has, according to government, agreed to send around 12,500 doses of the H1N1 shot, which should be enough to cover high risk local groups, but worldwide shortages are putting pressure on supplies and government is trying to secure other sources. The minister for health said he has also been talking with a manufacturer that could supply the vaccine directly to health officials in Cayman.

“My ministry will continue to support the Public Health Department in securing enough H1N1 vaccine for our population,” Mark Scotland said. “To date, the H1N1 vaccine was not available on the open market and we focused our efforts on working with the UK and PAHO to secure the vaccine. However, we are also now working with a manufacturer that can supply vaccine directly to us. Even so, because demand is outstripping supply worldwide, here too supplies will only be available in the New Year.”

The Public Health Department has requested an initial 12,500 H1N1 vaccine doses from the UK to cover most of the high-risk groups, Medical Officer of Health Dr Kiran Kumar said.

Meanwhile, Public Health has also been working closely with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) to secure a second source of H1N1 vaccine. PAHO will be receiving its first supplies – a million doses – in the second week of December. The bulk of its supplies, some 33 million doses, will only arrive between February and April next year.

“These doses have to be divided amongst all Caribbean and Latin America countries and will be allocated according to population size. Therefore, we cannot be sure how many doses we will receive in each instalment,” Dr Kumar explained.

To date, Cayman has registered a total of 109 confirmed H1N1 cases – four of these were confirmed during the past two weeks.

While the public awaits the H1N1 vaccine’s arrival, Dr Kumar continues to urge proactive measures. “Staying home when you are sick, keeping sick children out of school and frequent hand washing remain the best defences,” he said. The Health Services Authority has set-up a dedicated Flu Clinic where people with severe flu symptoms can be treated as a priority and segregated from other patients to prevent the spread.

Meanwhile, doctors in Canada are being advised not to use 170,000 doses of the vaccine manufactured by pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline following a number of allergic reactions to the drug. Company spokeswoman Gwenan White said that GlaxoSmithKline has advised medical staff in Canada to refrain from using one batch of the vaccine while they look into reports that that it might have caused more allergic reactions than normal.

Six people in Canada had suffered an allergic reaction and GlaxoSmithKline is only investigating the one batch, as it said no other doses around the world are affected.

Yesterday, the World Health Organisation reported that 65 million people have been vaccinated to date worldwide and there have been 10 known cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome, an auto-immune based paralyzing condition often seen following viral infection.

The agency said the side-effects of the H1N1 shot have been typical of flu vaccines: “As anticipated, side effects commonly reported include swelling, redness, or pain at the injection site, which usually resolves spontaneously a short time after vaccination. Fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches, occurring shortly after vaccine administration,have also been reported, though with less frequency. These symptoms also resolve spontaneously, usually within 48 hours. In addition, a variety of allergic reactions has been observed. The frequency of these reactions is well within the expected range.” WHO said.

Health officials in Norway have reported three cases of H1N1 swine flu that have a mutation which enables the virus to attack the deep lungs. Whether this means the virus is or could become more dangerous is unclear. “This mutation has been seen sporadically here and there around the world. Sometimes it’s been seen in patients who had very mild disease and sometimes it’s been seen in people who had more severe or fatal disease,” said Dr Anne Schuchat, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. 

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Oh, it is good to be an American!  When we travel I will be getting the H1N1 shot for the whole family.  Funny, how rural America has been able to have a constant supply of H1N1 for approximately 4 weeks, and Cayman can’t seem to get any on islands.  It wouldn’t be that big of deal, but we heard promise after promise that the H1N1 flu shot was on its way, and Cayman had already paid for and was promised delivery of such. 

    All I have to say is I pray for those of you here who aren’t able to get the shot, the first wave is over but the CDC says another large wave is coming.  And for children you have to get two doses, 4 weeks apart.  Guess what, IF you get it by mid January in Cayman, it will be mid February before your children are fully innnoculated.  Good luck!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Not only in the UK but in the US is there a tamiflu resistant swine flu…

  3. slowpoke says:


    The second wave is already over – unless there is evidence of a significant third wave, why bother?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thank goodness my daughter was born in the U.S. even though she has a Caymanian father. We took a short trip up visted the local health department and got her vaccinnated! Too bad the U.K. can’t seem to take care of ALL thier children! Such a sad situation.

    I asked the health department official if it mattered if the children were from the U.S. or not and they said they don’t even check they just get the children vaccinnated and its free. Pretty interesting huh!

    • A. Einstein says:

      Hey genius, 2x( or did all three of you go?) airfare, $600–$900. Rental car, $100-$200. Hotel, $150 a night. Various other expenses, $300-500.

      Cost of one unnecessary "free" flu shot – Aprox $1500

      Logic – Priceless

      • Anonymous says:

        Went home for a friend’s wedding and did it while I was there. Nice when you look for the bad in people. Pessimism gets you no where! Why don’t you type something that will help someone!

  5. Ex Pat says:

    Also note that a Tamiflu-resistant swine flu is in the UK: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8370859.stm


  6. John Evans says:


    According to the BBC –


    Up to a third of children in some areas may have had swine flu, but many will not have been ill, analysis shows.
    The Health Protection Agency has reviewed blood tests which showed higher levels of infection among children than originally thought.
    In hotspot areas, such as London and the West Midlands, a third of school-aged children may have had the virus, but only one in 10 or less got ill.
    Across the UK, the figure is probably about a fifth, the HPA said.
    The findings reinforce the fact the pandemic is a mild strain of flu.
    Flu, whether it is seasonal or swine, always affects more people than actually get ill.
    The ratio is normally about 50-50 and pandemic flu is probably not much different, the HPA said.
    The agency has been carrying out blood tests on sample groups as part of its on-going surveillance programme to look for signs that individuals had come into contact with swine flu.
    These have revealed high levels of infections without symptoms among children – between three to fives times as many have had the virus than have fallen ill.
    The revelation is interesting because it means the 1m figure for the overall number of cases seen so far is likely to be an underestimate by some way.
    The findings also suggest there may be a significantly higher degree of immunity in children than thought – once someone has had swine flu they cannot get it again unless the virus mutates.

    Coupled with this, between 30% to 40% of over 50s are thought to have some immunity from previous strains they have come into contact with.

    Swine flu is from the same family of the virus as the normal seasonal flu and previous pandemics.

    I contrast this to the 2003/4 Fujian flu season; that was anything but mild – it put me out of action for four weeks. However, we didn’t have the scares and headlines back then. It’s my opinion that the whole ‘Swine Flu’ scare is being stage-managed by the large pharmaceutical companies to boost profits.


    Over here the current epidemic seems to be the Norovirus or ‘winter vomiting disease’, but the only option with that is to stay at home until it passes – in reality that same advice is probably appropriate to anyone who thinks they are suffering from ‘Swine Flu’.