MESSAGE BY MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HONOURABLE RONNIE W. SKELTON
IN OBSERVANCE OF VACCINATION WEEK 2018
April 21 – 28, 2018
My fellow residents and visitors of the Virgin Islands, I am your Minister for Health and Social Development, Ronnie W. Skelton.
As we continue our efforts towards recovery, we want to ensure that we continue to protect the welfare of the people of the Territory from the youngest to the oldest. April 21-28 the region of the Americas will celebrate the 16th annual Vaccination Week. We know that healthy children grow up to become healthy adults, which brings us as a Territory closer to our goal of achieving a healthier Virgin Islands. With this in mind and as we celebrate Vaccination Week 2018, we want to encourage parents and guardians to ensure that their children have up-to-date vaccinations as it is the best way to protect them from a number of deadly vaccine-preventable diseases. Timely vaccinations are the safest and most effective way to protect your family and the community from a long list of potentially life-threatening illnesses.
This year the Vaccination Week campaign will link vaccinations with a football theme in honour of the FIFA World Cup 2018. The campaign slogan, “Strengthen your defence! #GetVax #VaccinesWork” uses the idea of strengthening the defence on a soccer/ football team as a metaphor for strengthening one’s defence against vaccine-preventable diseases through vaccination. As part of this campaign, the Virgin Islands will join the countries of the Americas and the other Caribbean Islands through the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) by promoting vaccination as a safe way for people to strengthen their defence against dangerous diseases.
Vaccination Week has been a key driver in the Americas and the Caribbean, resulting in more than 700 million people being vaccinated against a range of vaccine preventable diseases since 2002. The Virgin Islands have contributed more than 2,000 vaccinated persons towards this global milestone.
It is important that we continue to support these initiatives as they provide an opportunity to advocate for continued investment in strong immunisation programmes. It is also an opportunity to share information and educate the community on the importance of vaccination and its impact on the continued fight against dangerous diseases like measles, polio, and tetanus, among others.
Locally our Expanded Programme on Immunisation continues to strive to improve Public Health through primary healthcare. The programme continues to be resolute in eradicating infectious diseases while remaining vigilant in maintaining the elimination of measles and other diseases through the collaborative effort of the individual, the family, and the community in the role of immunisation. As a Territory, we continue to strive to achieve 100% coverage for all the recommended vaccines.
It is estimated that vaccines avert more than two million deaths annually. We are therefore encouraging all community members to take full advantage of the services offered during Vaccination Week to ensure that your family is fully immunised. Remember that many of these diseases are preventable.
This year Vaccination Week will be highlighted by a soccer match on Virgin Gorda, a health fair on Tortola and vaccination outreach and education sessions. I want to personally extend to every member of the community an invitation to the soccer game and the health fair and I would like to encourage the community to participate in the outreach and educational sessions as we celebrate Vaccination Week 2018.
Remember the theme “Strengthen your defence! #GetVax #VaccinesWork”. Come celebrate with us! On behalf of the Ministry of Health and Social Development and the BVI Health Services Authority, I am pleased to join the global community in celebrating Vaccination Week 2018.