STATEMENT BY HONOURABLE CARVIN MALONE
MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
DURING THE EIGHTH SITTING OF THE THIRD SESSION OF THE FOURTH HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
ON THURSDAY 29TH APRIL, 2021
AT THE SAVE THE SEED
ROAD TOWN, TORTOLA
ANNUAL VACCINATION WEEK
Mister Speaker, the region of the Americas and the other Caribbean Islands and territories join the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and partners in celebrating the 19th Annual Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA) that this week began on April 24 and will end on April 30.
Mister Speaker, this year’s theme “Vaccination brings us closer. #GetVax”, focuses on the ability that vaccines can and have brought us closer by keeping us healthy and ensuring that we remain disease free.
Due to COVID-19 being an infectious disease, we all at some point had to be a part in order to safeguard ourselves and loved ones. Even now, our current protocols ask that we remain physically distanced while in public and to limit gathering sizes and it is now reported through the Pan American Health Organization and the Centre for Disease Control in the United States that the vaccine will allow for families and friends to once again gather safely for weddings, christenings, barbeques, funerals and other events without having to worry of being infected or infecting loved ones.
Mister Speaker, I would like to provide a back story of how Vaccination week week came about. Vaccination week started globally in 2002 following a measles outbreak in the Andean region, in South America.
At that time Health Ministers from various countries throughout the Americas and the Caribbean partnered together to explore and implement measures to prevent further outbreaks from occurring. These Health Ministers have also implemented and supported vaccination week to serve as a platform for integrated activities.
The global observance and participation allows people from various countries to travel safely between regions and safely return to their homelands.
As we celebrate vaccination week 2021 during this COVID-19 pandemic, we are reminded that being vaccinated prevents the spread of diseases. The global financial impact that we all face during the COVID-19 pandemic is also proof that getting vaccinated is a cost effective measure to lessening health, social and economic negative impact.
While COVID-19 vaccines are front and centre currently, let us not forget that there are other routine vaccines that are absolutely and unequivocal equal in importance for keeping diseases at bay. There have been 6 vaccine preventable diseases that have been eliminated from the Americas and the Caribbean, as a result of effective vaccines and immunisation. They are Measles, Polio, Diphtheria or Whooping cough, Chicken Pox, Rubella, and Mumps.
It is therefore critical for us to continue with our regular routine immunisation in the midst of administering the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, here in our Territory. To date, there have been 10,051 first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine administered and 708 second doses administered and counting. I would like to thank those persons who have gone the extra mile to ensure their safety and that of their loved ones and the wider community. But we still have work to do and we need more persons to step up and help keep our communities safe against this unpredictable yet deadly disease caused by the COVID-19 virus.
There have been over 908 million persons that have being vaccinated since the start of vaccination week. The events held during vaccination week provides a platform for educational sessions, hyping awareness on preventable diseases, building community trust in the heath sector, and opportunities for persons to be vaccinated during the week of activities.
Vaccination has proven to be the best way in protecting us from illness and death in some cases from over twenty dangerous vaccine preventable diseases. We can all help to prevent the spread of diseases by getting vaccinated; ensuring our loved ones are vaccinated; maintain awareness throughout the schools; and by participating in the vaccination week activities.
Mister Speaker as we observe Vaccination week in the British Virgin Islands from 24th April to 30th April, I would like to invite everyone tuning in to participate in the activities carried out in the different districts. There is no participation as strong as going to get yourself vaccinated today.
I would also like to encourage persons who haven’t gotten vaccinated, that vaccines will protect you from the severe effects of COVID-19. The science proves this and the information is out there; you just have to seek information from reputable sources. There is a lot of misinformation out there also that has been causing fear and delay in us meeting our numbers in order for our Territory to fully re-open safely.
This will hinder us in moving forward in revitalising our economy Mister Speaker. We must do better and we must educate one another in getting the facts to make the best decisions for our Territory in moving forward.
In closing Mister Speaker, vaccines are safe, they are effective and will bring us closer to a sense of normalcy and closer together. There are decisions that must be made with the remaining vaccines after the 15th to 30th of May Mister Speaker.
If these cannot be utilised, then we would have to implement a plan in returning or re-distributing the vaccines throughout the region. This is being contemplated by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, this is being contemplated by other leaders throughout the region and we Mister Speaker would move towards getting these vaccines distributed either here in the Virgin Islands, in the region or back in the United Kingdom. I thank you.