Guyana introduces bivalent oral vaccine, among 36 countries

 

(July 7, 2016- Georgetown)- Guyana has been listed among  the 36 countries of the Region of the Americas to have switched from oral polio vaccine (tOPV), containing types 1,2 and 2 polioviruses, to the bivalent oral vaccine (bOPV), containing only types 1 and 3.

The decision for the switch in vaccine was made through the World Health Organisation/ Pan American Health Organisation in June 2015 and all 36 countries successfully switched within the established time frame, i.e. between April 17-May 1, 2016. This represents a significant milestone for the global eradication of polio and unique experience in global public health, with over 155 countries across the world switching during the same time period, taking us one step closer to global polio eradication. The Region has progressed significantly with Phase One of containment, and some countries have already initiated Phase Two activities.

Guyana has had success with its Immunization Programme over the last decade. This has come about with the strategies used to combat preventable diseases in children. In the 1970’s, the programme started to vaccinate against 6 diseases namely measles, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, diphtheria, tuberculosis and in 2012 additional antigens were introduced to fight against the following diseases, yellow fever, hepatitis B, mumps, heamophilus influenza , rubella, rotavirus and pneumococcal , meningococcal and human papilloma virus. There have been significant progresses towards this end in protecting our public from vaccine preventable diseases. We have moved from a childhood programme over the last decade to include adolescents, and now the entire family.

Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccines was introduced in 1995, in 1998-Hepatitis B to health workers and other high risk groups, in 1999-Yellow Fever, in 2000 and 2001- Pentavalent vaccines, in 2010-Rotavirus, in 2011 Pneumococcal vaccines. The Human Papilloma Virus Vaccines was introduced in the 2011. This vaccine works as a prevention measure to fight against the cervical cancer and is being administered to young girls, 9-13 years of age.

Active Surveillance is maintained for poliomyelitis, measles, mumps, and rubella, tetanus including neonatal and adult, diphtheria, whooping cough (pertussis), tuberculosis and yellow fever and all other diseases. We are constantly monitoring the signs and symptoms of any vaccine preventable disease. Testing and confirmation for these vaccine preventable diseases is also being done in collaboration with PAHO/WHO.

Towards, this end, there has been significant achievement in the EPI programme in Guyana. Last reported case of whooping cough in 2002, since 1962, Guyana has maintained a polio free status, since 1991, no reported case of Measles and the last case of yellow fever was in 1968.

Vaccination coverage has always been maintained at over 90 % in the antigens under one year of age over the last five years at the national level.   Even though the national coverage is over 90% , there are still regional areas which  will be targeted to ensure that the coverage is maintained.  This illustrates the government’s commitment to ensure that the children are protected against the vulnerable diseases and reduce childhood mortality.

 

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