Trinidad & Tobago Flu-Related Fatalities Increase 300%

Southern Hemisphere influenza virus drifting can reduce flu shot effectiveness 
trinidad and tobago
Caribbean (Vax Before Travel)

The Government of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago Ministry of Health (MoH) issued an update from Port of Spain ‘sounding the alarm for high-risk members of the public to get the annual influenza vaccination.’

In a media release published on December 3, 2019, the MoH noted that ‘24 people have already died during the current flu season.’

During the last flu season, Trinidad & Tobago only confirmed 7 influenza-related fatalities.

“Influenza viruses are serious and are generally more severe than the common cold."

This increase in flu-related fatalities could be related to the ‘drifting’ of influenza viruses in the Southern Hemisphere.

A report from Eurosurveillance shows that within countries of the Southern Hemisphere, the timing, duration, and intensity of the predominant circulating influenza viruses all varied during the 2019 influenza season.

This variability was noted even between neighboring countries.

This Eurosurveillance report published on November 7, 2019, means that the ‘flu activity in one country was not indicative of activity in another country, even when influenza seasons are contemporaneous.’ 

The early Vaccine Effectiveness estimates for the 2019 influenza season in the Southern Hemisphere presented in this report were highest for influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 and lowest for A(H3N2).

‘To remove any financial barriers, the flu vaccine is available, at no cost, at all health centers in Trinidad & Tobago,’ said the MoH statement. And, members of the public are advised to contact their nearest health center to confirm when influenza vaccines will be distributed.

This new Trinidad & Tobago MoH statement says the majority of persons who have died from Influenza this season were in one of these high-risk categories:

  • 65 years old or older
  • 5 years old or less
  • Diabetic
  • Hypertensive
  • Obese
  • Smoked Tobacco Products

The Republic of Trinidad & Tobago is the southernmost island country of about 1.3 million residents in the Caribbean, consisting of the main islands Trinidad and Tobago, and numerous much smaller islands.

About 400,000 international travelers visit these islands annually, which are located south of Grenada and just off the coast of northeastern Venezuela.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest various vaccinations, such as a flu shot, prior to visiting Trinidad & Tobago. The CDC’s August 2, 2019 update also includes a measles alert for Trinidad & Tobago.

The CDC says any vaccine can create a side effect, which should be reported to a healthcare provider asap.

Trinidad & Tobago vaccine news published by Vax Before Travel


Our Trust Standards: Medical Advisory Committee

Article by
Dani Reiter