Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 25, 2017 (SKNIS): The Ministry of Health has planned a number of activities in celebration of Vaccination Week in the Americas 2017, which runs from Monday, April 24 to Sunday, April 30, with the regional slogan “#GetVax to Celebrate a Healthy Tomorrow!”

From April 24-25, healthcare workers were trained in various aspects of the family health programme, including Expanded Programme Immunization (EPI) surveillance and regional and global indicators. A vaccination drive among high risk diabetic population – with booster dose against Diphtheria and Tetanus (DT) is slated for April 24-28, as well as a mop up campaign to get children in vaccination default to be brought up to date with the relevant immunization coverage, which is set for the same time period. Other activities to be carried out during immunization week include the completion agenda regarding Hepatitis B vaccine to the adult population aged 25 years and older, and social communication activities highlighting the achievements of the federation’s vaccination programme.

Addressing the nation in commemoration of the week, the Honourable Senator Wendy Phipps, Minister of State with Responsibility for Health, said that it is important for persons to get vaccinated, as there are a number of benefits for the people of St. Kitts and Nevis. Minister Phipps said that it is also important to educate persons on vaccination as it relates to their everyday health.

Senator Phipps noted that outside of the many benefits, there are a number of key factors that persons should know about immunization.

“Vaccines saves lives and prevent illness and disability. Global vaccination coverage is holding steady, with 86 percent of the world’s children receiving the required three doses of Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis (DPT3) coverage and vaccinations prevent an average of two to three million deaths per year from conditions such as tetanus, measles and pertussis,” said Minister Phipps. “An additional 1.5 million deaths could be avoided if global vaccination coverage improves, and some 19.4 million infants worldwide are not being treated with the most basic vaccines. However, it should be noted that this is a vast improvement from the World Health Organization (WHO) data for the year 2000, which reflected that almost 34 million children were not being vaccinated back then.”

The minister with responsibility for Health added that the “the federation’s successful immunization coverage is due to a number of factors including “sustained public confidence and support places in the national immunization programme; the solid foundation laid by committed, well-trained and professional public health nurses, strong and clear governmental support; reliable and strategic partnerships between public health care administrators, civil society and international donor agencies such as Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) and WHO; and continuing public education and awareness of our people on the benefits of vaccination.”

Minister Phipps urged citizens and residents to fully support the activities, and encouraged them to access the services of the federation’s 17 health centers in order to enhance the detection of lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension, to name a few.