Big Vaccination Drive Underway Here

AN intensive immunization programme is underway that seeks to protect Saint Lucians from diseases said to be non-existent in the country for over two decades.

Measles, mumps, rubella and polio may have been a source of worry here decades ago, but not anymore. However the possibility of them resurfacing to cause some level of concern is real because of visitors coming here from countries that still have the diseases.

This much was noted by a team from the Ministry of Health Tuesday during a press conference to mark vaccination week in the Americas.

Dr. Alisha Eugene, Senior Medical Officer for Infectious Diseases; Julietta Cassius, Immunization Manager; Juliette Joseph , Assistant Principal Nursing Officer and Natasha Lloyd-Felix, Director Health Promotions all of the Ministry of Health, along with nurses at health institutions across the country and other Ministry officials are the ones coordinating this campaign to keep the diseases at bay.

With the theme ‘Boost your power get vaccinated’ the team from the Ministry is calling on everyone with children to five years old to ensure that they get the required immunization shots to protect them from the diseases which could be imported here.

In the case of polio which was eradicated from the region in 1994 the immunization vaccine is still being given because “there are still parts of the world where the disease exists,” according to Cassius.

The global goal of polio elimination has been set for 2020.

To ensure that all children are vaccinated against the diseases, teams from the Ministry of Health have been going to schools and communities to deliver the vaccines and urging parents to bring their child to the nearest wellness centres (health centres).

The health team will soon launch two new strategies in the coming months designed to sustain and maintain the elimination of polio. The change, which is to give a child a dose of the inactivated polio vaccine (injection) before administering the oral dose, is to strengthen that child’s immunization ability against the disease.

According to Cassius children will continue to receive oral doses after that one dose of the inactivated vaccine until 2020, the year in which health organizations the world over have given for the global elimination of polio. Oral doses against polio are expected to end by that year, however the inactivated polio vaccine will remain.

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