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Covid-19 vaccinations advised as summer approaches

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, receives her Covid-19 vaccination when it became available in 2021 (File photograph)

Residents were urged to keep up to date with Covid-19 vaccinations as increased travel and social gatherings were expected during the summer.

The Ministry of Health’s epidemiology and surveillance unit reminded people to be mindful of potential risks associated with the coronavirus “during this time of increased Covid-19 transmission in our community”.

It was reported in The Royal Gazette this month that two hospital units were on isolation after patients tested positive for Covid-19, with some staff on leave at the time because of infections from the virus.

Kim Wilson, the health minister, said: “While we have made progress in protecting against severe illness from Covid-19, this virus remains present in our community.

“We will likely always have some cases and I urge everyone to continue taking precautions to avoid catching and spreading Covid-19.”

The ministry said there was updated guidance from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention that focused on vaccination and prevention strategies.

It added: “The CDC recommends that everyone stay up to date with Covid-19 vaccinations.

“This means receiving all recommended doses, including at least one dose of the updated 2023-24 Covid-19 vaccine. This updated vaccine targets the XBB lineage of the Omicron variant.

“The 2023-24 Covid-19 vaccines are available from the Hamilton Health Centre by appointment and at GP offices.”

The ministry said: “As the Covid-19 virus continues to change, updates to the Covid-19 vaccine can be expected in the future.

“People who are 65 years and older and those with chronic diseases are eligible for additional doses.

“They should consult with their physicians regarding the timing of additional doses to maintain optimal protection.

“To help prevent the spread of Covid-19 and other respiratory viruses, persons who develop symptoms of or who test positive for a respiratory illness ― including fever, cough, and sore throat ― should stay home and away from others until 24 hours after the fever and other symptoms have resolved, without fever-reducing medication.

“If testing positive for Covid-19, precautions such as physical distancing and mask wearing are recommended for an additional five days.

“People at higher risk for severe illness, such as older adults and those with underlying health conditions, should seek healthcare immediately if they develop symptoms.

“Early testing and treatment can help prevent severe disease.”

The health ministry highlighted CDC advice that maintaining good hygiene practices — including frequent hand washing — wearing masks in crowded indoor settings and ensuring proper ventilation, could help reduce the spread of Covid-19, regardless of vaccination status.

It added: “By following these guidelines, individuals can better protect themselves and their communities from Covid-19.

“For more detailed information, you can visit the CDC's official pages on Covid-19 vaccination and respiratory virus guidance.”

The ministry said summary updates on Covid-19 and other public health conditions could be found at gov.bm/health-information, which was updated weekly.

It added: “While it doesn't provide specific Covid numbers, it does indicate if the country is seeing an increase in cases.”

Health officials told the Gazette on June 11 that, up to that point, six deaths on the island this year were linked to the coronavirus, with 303 confirmed cases logged in 2024 to June 8.

A BHB spokeswoman said then that a long-term care unit at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and a unit at the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute were under quarantine, with visits on hold, after an unspecified number of patients tested positive for the illness.

She added at the time: “Some of our 1,800 staff members are also on leave due to Covid infections.”

The BHB said: “We may feel like Covid is behind us, but it is important to remember that it’s still circulating in the community.

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Published June 24, 2024 at 7:59 am (Updated June 24, 2024 at 7:59 am)

Covid-19 vaccinations advised as summer approaches

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