Child Vaccines Have Arrived

Ministry Of Health Says All Is Well


SAINT LUCIA’S Ministry of Health has denied reports that the health of the nation’s children is in jeopardy due to a shortage of vaccines to guard against tuberculosis, measles, mumps and rubella.

The denial comes in the wake of reports that the vaccines MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin) which guard against tuberculosis were unavailable at health facilities on the island.

The United Workers Party, this week, echoed the fears of some parents who said they were petrified by the effects on their young ones as a result of the unavailability of the BCG and the MMR vaccines since November 2014.

Said the UWP: “What is more worrying is the fact that health officials cannot provide a definite time frame for the importation of more stock. The first shot of the BCG vaccine is usually given to babies six weeks after birth to protect against tuberculosis, which is a serious infection that affects the lungs, but can also affect the bones, joints and kidneys and can cause meningitis. The MMR vaccine is usually administered in two doses to children between one year and six years to prevent measles, mumps, and rubella, which are all serious and very contagious diseases”.

But the Immunization Manager within the Ministry of Health, Juliana Frederick Cassius has brushed aside such fears while admitting that there was a delay in administering the vaccines.

“Yes, we have had a short supply of some of our vaccines particularly the BCG and the MMR, but I need the public to know that our vaccines have been arriving as scheduled because we ordered our vaccines to arrive in Saint Lucia in the first and third quarter of every year. So as of last week our vaccines have been arriving. All health centres right now do have the MMR vaccine and there have been strategies put in place to ensure that every child receives the vaccine and that no child is missed,” Cassius said.

According to her the Ministry undertakes a vaccination drive every year where it ensures that children who miss out on certain vaccines for the year are vaccinated.

“Last year we had a very successful campaign where we went into the schools and ensured that our children had their second doses of the MMR vaccine,” she said.

Cassius said that there will be interruptions in the supply of vaccines for the year because of their shelf life and other factors .However Saint Lucia’s vaccination coverage has been 95% – 99%, an excellent record that has met PAHO’s recommended scale of vaccination for children.

“Our vaccination coverage for the past 10 years and beyond has been excellent, very high and provides immunity not just for the individual but also for the community. We want to relieve the fears of the public that even though the vaccines will be given a little later than usual, we are still within the time frame in which the vaccines are to be given according to the WHO/PAHO recommendation.

“A child needs to have the primary doses of vaccines up to a year. Even if there is a little delay in the giving of the vaccines the child will still receive the vaccines within the recommended schedule time,” Cassius said.

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