Antigua and Barbuda joined the rest of the Americas in observing Vaccination Week of the America’s 2023. The week is being observed this year from April 22nd to April 29th.
The ministry of Health, Wellness, Social Transformation and the Environment in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization held an opening ceremony today at the Ministry’s headquarters on Lower High and Long Streets.
In addition to the opening ceremony, Nurses, Community Health Aids and Auxiliary staff participated in a March from the former Health Center to the Ministry’s Headquarters to educate the public on the importance of vaccines.
Health Minister, Sir Molwyn Joseph was the featured speaker at the opening ceremony. Minister Joseph used the opportunity to highlight a call from PAHO Director, Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, for countries to urgently step-up routine vaccination programs as the risk of disease outbreaks in the Americas reaches a 30-year high due to a decline in vaccination coverage.
According to Dr. Barbosa, while the Americas was the first region in the world to eliminate polio in 1994 and has historically been a world leader in disease control and elimination, “national immunization programs have suffered numerous setbacks over the last decade.
Sir Molwyn highlighted the fact that Dr. Barbosa is of the view that inadequate sustainable financing for immunization and an increase in vaccine hesitancy due to misinformation have been among the primary drivers of the drop in coverage, he added, factors further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister Joseph used the opportunity to commend the Nurses for a job well done while noting that failure to effectively implement and maintain routine vaccination coverage leaves children “susceptible to diseases such as polio, tetanus, measles and diphtheria.
Meanwhile, the PAHO Director in a press statement urged countries to step up efforts to “recover the vaccination coverage rates that protected us in the past.”
This year, the theme of the week is Get up to date #EachVaccineCounts and the aim is to reach more than 92 million people across the Region with life-saving vaccines.
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