Vaccination week 2018 – aiming for 100% coverage

DPI, Guyana, Monday, April 23, 2018

The Georgetown District officially launched its Vaccination Week activity which places emphasis on the importance of vaccines and their effectiveness.

At the formal opening ceremony, District Medical Officer (ag), Georgetown, Dr. Dianele Drepaul pointed out that Guyanese must take advantage of this exercise since it can contribute to an overall coverage rate of 100 percent.

More importantly, Dr. Drepaul added that “we still have a lot to do given the current situation in our neighbouring countries and with such porous borders that we have, we are quite susceptible to outbreaks. A parent who decides not to vaccinate their child runs the risk of that child becoming sick and also others who have not been vaccinated.”

The local launch was hosted at the Sophia Health Centre under the theme “Strengthen your defence” #GetVax #VaccineWorks, is being observed concurrently with the regional launch in Havana Cuba, while countries in the Americas will observe the week from April 23 to 27.

Students of the Sophia Nursery and Primary schools along with public health representatives from various health centres in Georgetown marched through the streets surrounding the health centre, kicking off the week’s observances.

It has been noted that vaccines guard the human body resistance against 17 antigens which include Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR), Diphtheria and yellow fever. Vaccination week facilitates protection of the population against vaccine-preventable diseases and national coverage is over 90% for all antigens under 1 year.

According to Family and Community Health Specialist of PAHO, Janice Woolford, Guyana’s vaccination package has expanded from one that caters to children, to a family immunization programme. Vaccination week is now being used as a platform to integrate other activities into the week’s schedule.

This is the 16th year Ministry of Public Health is collaborating with PAHO/WHO to host Vaccination Week in Guyana. It is a PAHO/WHO initiative and is inspired by the FIFA world cup football which will be held in Russia, hence the theme “Strengthen your defence’

Since 2003, more than 720 million people of all ages have been vaccinated under the framework of this programme.  “Vaccination Week in the Americas began in 2003 as part of a response to an epidemic outbreak which was between Venezuela and Colombia in 2002,” Woolford said.

Additionally, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Health, Colette Adams explained that the ministry can boast of having a robust immunization with the high vaccination coverage records to show.

“The programme today …is not available only to the under-five population but also to the vulnerable groups such as health workers, immigration officers, army officers, miners, etc.”

The objectives of Vaccination Week are to advance equity and improve access to vaccination services, improve coverage, raise awareness on how vaccines work and to promote the transition from child to family health.

By: Delicia Haynes

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