Statement
21 April 2019 - 10:19am

HONOURABLE CARVIN MALONE
MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

MESSAGE IN OBSERVANCE OF
VACCINATION WEEK 2019
APRIL 20-27

 

I extend warm greetings to the residents and visitors of these Virgin Islands.

Saturday April 20th marks the beginning of vaccination week. The Ministry of Health and Social Development together with the BVI Health Services Authority joins the Americas and other Caribbean countries and territories in celebration of the 17th anniversary of vaccination week in the Americas! The week is being observed under the theme “Do your part. Protect your community. #GetVax”

The importance of vaccinations can never be overstated. Vaccination has been one of the greatest public health achievements of the modern era. Timely vaccinations offer the safest and most effective way to protect you, your family and the community from a long list of potentially life-threatening illnesses.

Looking back -- the history of vaccination week can be dated as far back as 2002.  It was born out of a proposal by Ministers of Health of the Andean Region following the last case of indigenous measles in the Americas.

This proposal called for a coordinated vaccination effort across national borders to reach vulnerable populations. It was an effort not only to put an end to the measles outbreak but primarily to prevent further outbreaks of any kind.

Fast forward to today, vaccinations have become an integral part of our health management system and its benefits are realized every day. Vaccinations have also influenced the impact and transmission of diseases like Polio, Measles, Hepatitis A and B, Influenza, Tetanus and Chicken Pox. Although vaccinations have provided a shield for us against these diseases for many years, now, more and more, persons are opting not to vaccinate.  This has prompted the World Health Organisation (WHO) to highlight ‘vaccine hesitancy’ as one of the top ten threats to global health in 2019. 

Regionally and internationally we are seeing the re-emergence of the measles.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “from January 1 to March 28, 2019, 387 individual cases of measles have been confirmed in 15 states.  This is the second-greatest number of cases reported in the U.S. since measles was eradicated in 2000”.  As a tourist destination and well-travelled population, these developments may cause concern to residents. My encouragement to you is to protect yourself, your children, and other family members from these diseases by ensuring that your family is up to date with the vaccination schedule.

.As we observe Vaccination Week 2019, I want to take this time to reiterate the importance of vaccination in a territory like the BVI. Our last recorded case of the measles was in 1990 and through our Expanded Program on Immunization we hope to continue our educational efforts and continue to provide the relevant vaccines in prevention of all forms of diseases where possible.

The Expanded Program on Immunization continues to improve Public Health through vaccination within our Territory. It continues to be resolute in the fight to eradicate the infectious diseases that can be prevented by vaccines.  Over the years, the BVI has boasted over 90-95% coverage for the recommended childhood vaccines.  This means that between 90-95 percent of the Territory’s children are up to date with their vaccination schedule.

As a Territory, we will continue to strive to achieve 100% coverage for all of the recommended vaccines.  We continue to advocate and admonish parents and caregivers to ensure that their children are vaccinated and protected from vaccine preventable diseases because we all have a part to play in protecting and preserving the health of our community!  I encourage you to pay careful attention to the important messages that will be shared by Health Professionals during Vaccination Week, and to seek further information from your primary healthcare provider.

On behalf of the Ministry of Health and Social Development and the entire Government, I am pleased to join in solidarity with the global community to officially open Vaccination Week 2019.  Remember “Protect your community. Do your part. #GetVax,” it’s a community effort!

I am Carvin Malone – Minister of Health and Social Development.

Thank you for listening.

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