Every year around this time, the Pan American Health Organization and its partners celebrate Vaccination Week in the Americas – a time to raise the awareness of vaccines and their importance; a time to celebrate the successes of vaccines – a public health good.
This year, Saint Lucia with the Americas celebrates the 19th Vaccination Week in the Americas during the week April 24 to 30, 2021 under the theme “Vaccines Bring Us Closer. Get Vax.” This theme brings into focus how vaccines can bring people closer by keeping them healthy and ensuring that diseases remain at bay.
This year’s VWA focuses on how vaccines bring us closer to our most cherished moments, people and goals. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the Caribbean region and the rest of the world, affecting us from all dimensions, and causing us to interact in unimaginable ways.
Assistant Principal Nursing Officer/ National Immunization Manager – Tecla Jn Baptiste, says that as the Department of Health & Wellness reflects, it is noted that we have come a long way from where we were at this time last year. Although we are still in the pandemic, significant steps have been made towards achieving the normalcy which was stripped away from us as a result of COVID-19. Several clinical trials were underway towards a vaccine/ vaccines that could protect us from COVID-19 and its complications. Today, we have safe and effective vaccines which have been developed and distributed across countries and continents.
There are many things we long to do, such as socializing and being with our families and loved ones. Saint Lucia has administered over 24,000 first doses and over 1000 second doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine to date. As we continue to roll-out the campaign, everyone is encouraged to get vaccinated.
The gains we have achieved with the elimination of measles, rubella, polio, and tetanus, through vaccinations, we have no doubt we can achieve the same with the COVID–19 vaccines. But we need a greater number of the population to be vaccinated to achieve this. Therefore we plead to you the citizenry to get vaccinated against COVID–19. By doing so, you reduce the burden of severe disease, virus transmission, hospitalizations, and death.
At this moment, I take this opportunity to recognize the hard work and dedication of the health team,
our physicians, nurses, health aides, attendants, and other health care partners, who continue to
sustain the National Immunization program, especially during the pandemic. The gains of the National Immunization program would not be possible without your efforts. You continue to advocate for vaccines, and delivering quality service to the people of Saint Lucia. It has not been easy having to re-strategize considering the COVID-19 protocols which have been put in place. Additionally, your commitment and dedication took Saint Lucia through a successful introduction and roll-out of the COVID-19 Vaccine.
Whilst our focus is on COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines in the battle against this pandemic; and aiming for population immunity, let us remember the importance of the regular vaccination program. It is of utmost importance to ensure that the immunization status of our loved ones – especially the little ones – is up-to-date. Vaccines have been proven to be the best way to prevent and protect us from various infectious diseases.
Citizens and residents of St. Lucia, you are encouraged to continue accessing the health services available to you. In keeping with the COVID-19 protocols, please contact your healthcare provider for an appointment.