NASSAU, The Bahamas — Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) Representative for The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands, Dr. Eldonna Boisson explained that not so long ago, the Expanded Immunization Programs in the Caribbean were second to none in the world, maintaining the over 95 per cent vaccination coverage that is needed for herd immunity.
Herd immunity protects everyone from vaccine preventable diseases, serious ones, like polio, measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.
“As a matter of fact, the Region of the Americas was the first region to eliminate congenital rubella, rubella, measles, neonatal tetanus, and polio. However, as you are no doubt aware, in recent years, our vaccination coverage rates have been falling,” Dr. Boisson said during the Vaccination Promotion and Thank You Luncheon for Nurses at SuperClub Breezes, Friday, June 30, 2023.
She said, “They have now reached dangerously low levels, low enough to put us at risk of reintroduction and spread of some of the diseases that we have not seen for many, many years.”
The PAHO Representative said in The Bahamas, where tourism is thriving once again, there is a constant flow of people entering the country every day, some of whom are coming from countries that have circulation of some of the vaccine preventable diseases that we eliminated. So, the risk of reintroduction of these diseases is real.
She said the theme for 2023 Vaccination Week in The Americas, that was recently celebrated, is #Each Vaccine Counts.
“Yes, every single vaccine that each of you gives, counts towards getting The Bahamas back to the 95 per cent vaccination coverage that the country needs to achieve herd immunity to protect everyone in the country.”
Dr. Boisson said recent vaccination campaigns have started to increase coverage rates and everything is moving in the right direction.
Acting Chief Medical Officer, Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr. Phillip Swann advised the healthcare providers to look back to what helped them to achieve the high records of vaccinations in the past, so that they could be a guide to help receive those high levels again.
“We need to use the technology that we have today to leverage us back to that point. We are tracking mothers especially, fathers and parents in general to ensure that our children become vaccinated.”
Dr. Swann the use of technology is needed to stop useless deaths due to the lack of vaccinations.
He noted that the country owes a debt to the nurses for the work that they perform on a daily basis.