Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 23, 2019 (SKNIS): In her address to the nation in commemoration of Vaccination Week in the Americas 2019, which runs from Saturday, April 20 to Saturday, April 27, under the regional slogan ““Protect Your Community. Do Your Part. #GetVax”, The Honourable Senator Wendy Phipps, Minister of State with Responsibility for Health, said that “St. Kitts and Nevis has had a long track record of vaccination use and advocacy” dating as far back as the 1800s.
“Our medical archives illustrate that it was during that period when a smallpox vaccination programme was carried out in our islands by the British settlers. Well over 100 years later, a total of 11 vaccines are now routinely administered to our people as part of our Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) which was established in 1978,” said Minister Phipps. “Some of these vaccines are given to prevent Diphtheria; Pertussis (Whooping Cough); Tetanus; Hepatitis B; Oral Polio; BCG; and Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR). Our Country’s current vaccine coverage remains at an average of 98 percent of our target population.”
Senator Phipps noted that several vaccines have been introduced and administered to citizens and residents of St. Kitts and Nevis as recent as 2018.
“In 2018, the Ministry of Health introduced the Influenza vaccine for high risk populations such as the elderly, Port Health workers, general health care workers and persons with chronic conditions. However, since 2000 the Haemophilus Influenza Type B vaccine has been administered locally to prevent meningitis and pneumonia in children,” she said. “In 2015, there was a re-introduction of the birth dose of the Hepatitis B vaccine.”
She noted that in 2019, the Ministry of Health intends to make the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine available for boys and girls in the 6th grades of both the public and private schools.
“This quadrivalent vaccine – Gardasil – is designed to address HPV types 6 and 11, and types 16 and 18, and will be available free of cost through the school health programme. It will be administered in two doses which will be given six (6) months apart. It should be noted that the HPV vaccine is intended to protect children from the HPV virus that causes cancers of throat, and reproductive tract and organs, such as the penis, cervix, throat, vagina and vulva,” said Minister Phipps.
The minister with responsibility for Health added that the “the federation’s successful immunization coverage is due to a number of factors including: public confidence and support placed in our 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 the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO, and continuing public education and awareness of our people on the benefits of vaccination.