(SKNIS): As the Federation joins the rest of the international community in commemorating Vaccination Week 2016, the residents of St. Kitts and Nevis, in particular the health professionals in Community Health Services, were encouraged to do their part in maintaining the high vaccination coverage of 97 percent.
These words of advice were given by Minister of State responsible for Health, Honourable Senator Wendy Phipps who opened the week this morning (April 25.)
“It stands to reason that we must preserve the gains that we have achieved while closing the gap of unvaccinated individuals who often live on the margins of society, are classified as indigent and are more likely than others to suffer from inequalities of various forms,” Minister Phipps said, noting that since the inception of Vaccination Week in the Americas in 2003, more than 580 million persons have been vaccinated. “This is a remarkable achievement and must be sustained in the long-term.”
The International theme for the week is “Go for the Gold” and the Minister specified what can be done here in the Federation to achieve the best results.
“Here in St. Kitts and Nevis we must continue to do our part to (a) encourage parents and guardians to vaccinate their infants and school-aged children (b) ensure that there is adequate government support to finance our national immunization programme (c) protect our citizens before they travel abroad to areas where certain diseases are prevalent (d) protect our borders by ensuring that minimum vaccination standards are maintained by travelers seeking to access our ports of entry,” Minister Phipps said.
It was emphasized that in order for this to happen, the environment and neighbourhoods would have to be hostile to disease carrying organisms, the water supply would have to be safe and food security would have to be top priority. Achievements thus far were credited to several partners.
“This consistent success rate is no small feat and is due in large measure to the following realities: (1) sustained public confidence and support placed in our national immunization programme (2) the solid foundation laid by committed, well-trained and professional public health nurses (3) strong and clear government support and (4) reliable and strategic partnerships,” the Minister responsible for Health said, adding that the partnerships is between public health administrators, civil society and international donor agencies such as PAHO [the Pan American Health Organisation] and the WHO [World Health Organisation.]”
The continuation of public education and awareness to ensure that residents know of the benefits of getting vaccinated was also highlighted.
The Vaccination Week activities include the launch of the third edition of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) in St. Kitts and Nevis, a one minute advertisement featuring local athletes who are assisting in promoting the theme “Go for the Gold,” and simultaneous Health Fairs in Basseterre and Charlestown on Friday.