PEOPLE with illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer and asthma are strongly advised to get fully vaccinated against covid19 as soon as possible.
Dr Abdul Hamid from the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) offered this advice to the public during the virtual health news conference on Wednesday.
At the same briefing, NCRHA CEO Davlin Thomas said a total of 181,845 people have been vaccinated against covid19 at the NCRHA's facilities to date. He added that 60-69 per cent of the NCRHA's doctors and nurses have been vaccinated to date as well.
Hamid said diabetes, hypertension, cancer and asthma are among the illnesses that pose an "extremely high risk for death and disability after a covid19 infection."
Using diabetes as an example, Hamid said people with Type 2 diabetes "are more likely to have quite serious complications...more ICU (intensive care unit) admissions...longer length of stay and death from covid19." He added this was supported by recent studies in the US.
Hamid said approximately 30 per cent of the population suffers from hypertension. Within that figure, he said 20 per cent of adults or 300,000 people have hypertension.
"Growing data shows a higher risk of covid19 infections and complications (in) people with high blood pressure, and we saw this from the outset of covid19 infections worldwide."
Hamid said a recent study showed 76 per cent of patients who died from covid19 had hypertension.
In terms of heart disease, he said, "Covid19 can damage your heart directly, especially if your heart is already weakened by the effect of high blood pressure.
"Covid19 may cause inflammation of the heart muscle..,a condition called myocarditis..which makes it harder for the heart to pump blood."
In addition, he said there was a high incidence of covid19 in cancer patients relative to the general population.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Hamid continued, considered that cancer "represents an established or probable risk for severe covid19 (infection).
"Cancer patients with fever or lower respiratory symptoms such as coughs are prioritised for covid19 testing."
Hamid advised that everyone with active or prior cancer who is eligible to be vaccinated "should be vaccinated against covid19.
Hamid and Thomas said the NCRHA has been liaising with organisations who want to get their members vaccinated, to send medical personnel to vaccinate their members on site. They said there has been a positive response to this initiative.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram recalled an initiative last weekend for people to receive covid19 vaccines in different shopping malls throughout TT.
"We are continuing our outreach across the country with various RHAs (regional health authorities)."
On a report that some tents at a drive-through location in Wallerfield had been blown down, disrupting vaccination there, Thomas said that situation was quickly rectified.
"We have a number of different types of vaccines that are being issued at that drive-through. They were available the very next day."