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CARPHA hails the role of vaccines in public health


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CARPHA hails the role of vaccines in public health
CARPHA executive director, Dr Joy St John. (FILE)

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PORT OF SPAIN – Executive director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), Dr Joy St John said vaccinations have led to significant improvements in health across the region in the past.

But she warned that if the Caribbean fell behind in its established immunisation programmes, the region ran the risk of the recurrence of measles and other previously eradicated diseases.

St John was speaking as CARPHA joined its partners and the rest of the world in observing the 19th Annual Vaccination Week in the Americas.

“We, in the Caribbean have been well served as our countries have applied high standards in the delivery of vaccination programmes,” she said.  As the first region to eliminate measles, the Caribbean is the leader among regions of the world.

“This has allowed our children to survive because they no longer develop severe measles infections. Vaccination remains the most effective way to prevent influenza, measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases.

“This scientific innovation also brings us closer to family. Vaccinations are an important part of family and public health. They protect not only you, but your entire community.”

The theme for this year’s observance of Vaccination Week is “Vaccines bring us closer, #GetVax” and comes against the backdrop of hesitancy across the region to COVID-19 vaccines.

This year’s campaign, which runs from April 24 to 30, seeks to show how vaccination connects to people, their goals and moments that matter the most to them, and help to improve the health of everyone, everywhere, throughout life.

CARPHA said it brought together specialists in communications and health promotion from across the region to hone their risk communication skills, so that they could effectively respond to people’s concerns, opinions, emotions and reactions, in preparation for the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines in the Caribbean.

The regional organisation said it also launched a survey to obtain views on the COVID-19 vaccines from people living in the Caribbean and to determine their willingness to be vaccinated. The survey is available in English, Spanish and Dutch.

CARPHA said the Caribbean Regulatory System issued technical reviews and certificates of recommendation for emergency use to CARPHA member states for four COVID-19 vaccines in March and April this year.

These are the vaccines manufactured by Oxford-AstraZeneca, Serum Institute of India, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson. (AR)