By Prior Beharry
A trivalent vaccine for Influenza A and B is being used in the public sector as opposed to a quadrivalent vaccine to be administered in the private sector in Trinidad and Tobago.
There were reports that 59 people died in Singapore last week after receiving quadrivalent vaccines.
Speaking at the virtual media conference of the Ministry of Health on Saturday, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh admitted to some issues with the quardrivalent vaccine “which we do not use in the public sector that are causing some cause for alarm.”
The health minister was responding to a question from AZPNews.com.
He said the public sector in Trinidad and Tobago has always used the trivalent vaccine.
Deyalsingh, “The trivalent vaccine means that it is effected against two strains of Influenza A (H1NI, H2N3) and one strain of Influenza B which are the main viral culprits that circulate.
“We are not using the quadrivalent. It does not mean that the quadrivalent is better than the trivalent.”
He said, “Beware there are some issues with quadrivalent vaccines being used in other countries.
“And I want to assure the public that what you receive in the public sector is a safe trivalent vaccine.”
Principal Medical Officer, Epidemiology, Dr Naresh Nandram said a trivalent vaccine will address three vaccine strains and a quadrivalent will address four.
He said concerns with the quadrivalent vaccines revolve around adverse events and some safety and security-type reactions.
Dr Nandram said the ministry has consulted with internal and external experts as well as technical partners and have consistently opted to procure the trivalent vaccine.
He said during development, modelling was done to find out which strains would be more in circulation during any one year.
Dr Nandram said, “The majority of the predicted strains to be in global circulation are well covered by the trivalent vaccine offered in the public health facility.
“The additional strain that is not in the trivalent vaccine isn’t in a significant degree of circulation in T&T.”
He said the ministry choose the trivalent vaccine in the interest of public safety.
Dr Avery Hinds, Techincal Director in the Epidemiology Division in the Ministry of Health, said, “We are flagging the quadrivalent vaccine out of an abundance of caution and it was more really from the quadrivalent vaccines that were being used in South East Asia.”
He stressed that the ministry was not “pegging” the quadrivalent vaccine in the private sector to the type in South East Asia where two of the several types had some additional health concerns for which there were warnings and retractions.
And Deyalsingh said the number of Influenza vaccines being administered at public health facilities has been declining.
He said last week a total of 6,963 vaccines were administered compared to 5,329 this week.
Deyalsingh said a total of 27,951 vaccines have been administered in and said this number should be about 35,000 to 40,000 by now.
He said an increase in vaccination was even more important in T&T especially with the upcoming Fall and Winter seasons in the US and repatriation flights from US, England and colder climates.
He said the flu season was between October to May and people should get their influenza shots seasonally and not annually.