16th January, 2019

Ministry of Health Addressing Increased Demand for Flu Vaccinations


Port-of-Spain, January 16th, 2019:  The Ministry of Health gives the assurance that it is closely monitoring the supply and distribution of influenza vaccines to meet the increased demand at the nation’s public health institutions. To date, approximately one third of the vaccines acquired have been administered (24,000 administered out of 75,000 vaccines).

While the Ministry is encouraged by the significant public response to the flu vaccination drive, we remind members of the public there is a sufficient quantity of the flu vaccines. Based on the national flu vaccine uptake patterns for the last two flu seasons, 75, 000 doses of the vaccine were procured for this flu season.

In response to the positive uptake by the public, the Ministry has already taken the proactive step to procure additional doses of the flu vaccine through the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO). If required, the Ministry will continue to use this pathway to acquire additional doses of the flu vaccine for distribution.

Persons who fall into key at-risk groups are urged to get vaccinated. Persons in the at-risk-groups are:

·         Children aged 6 months to 5 years

·         Pregnant women

·         Adults over 65

·         Persons with chronic medical conditions (such as Diabetes Mellitus)

·         Persons with chronic respiratory illnesses (such as Asthma)

The surge in the public demand for the vaccine created the need for immediate intervention in specific health centres. Interim arrangements are being put in place to respond to this increased demand in key areas. Flu vaccine doses have already been redistributed from areas of low demand to areas of high demand.

Usually approximately 1,500 vaccines are administered weekly. Last week (7-11 January 2019), approximately 5,000 doses were administered and an even higher uptake is expected for this week ending 18th January 2019.

Since the media launch of the 2019 Flu Season in November 2018, consistent attempts were made by the Ministry of Health to encourage persons to go to their nearest health centre to receive the flu vaccine.  Thus far the Ministry has published 15 Newspaper flu advertisements    ( in the main daily newspapers) and participated in television and radio interviews featuring discussions on the topic in an effort to sensitise the public. 

Additionally, social media messaging has been used extensively to continue the public information dissemination and highlight flu vaccination. At relevant public health clinic appointments health workers have also been encouraging members of the at-risk population to receive the vaccine.

The public is therefore advised to follow the instructions of the public health personnel who are acting in the best interest of the public.

The Ministry of Health remains committed to ensuring the health and well being of the population and is putting in place all required arrangements to ensure that we provide the best possible service to the public.