Letters & Opinion

Vaccines and Their Effectiveness: The St. Lucia Experience

Sylvestre Phillip M.B.E
By Sylvestre Phillip M.B.E

VACCINE has become a household word in St. Lucia today. Indeed, vaccines have been administered in St. Lucia for several decades. And, indeed, St. Lucia has established an immaculate immunization programme which had been recognized by the entire Caribbean.

The various Health and Wellness Centres in St. Lucia has made it possible for our children to be immunized against various viruses such as: Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, Polio, Tetanus, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, also known as German measles, Varicella, also known as chickenpox, Influenza and others.

Most of these vaccines are given by injecting a shot in the arm although modern medicine has made it possible to use a spray which could be administered through the mouth in a few cases.

As I always do, I went into the achieves and found a few handouts which were given to me while being a patient at a hospital in New York City, United States of America some 13 years ago, which I would like to share with you.

The handouts were prepared by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and distributed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

To explain the importance of taking a vaccine, let us take Varicella or chickenpox virus which I, and many children of my time, had caught creating much itching, discomfort and rugged skin.

Chickenpox is a common childhood disease. It is usually mild, but it can be serious, especially in young infants and young adults.

The virus can be spread from person to person through the air, or by contact with fluid from chickenpox blisters; it causes a rash, itching, fever and tiredness; it could lead to severe skin infection, scars, pneumonia, brain damage or death. A person who has had chickenpox could get a painful rash called shingles years later. One could be hospitalized or even die because of chickenpox.

Chickenpox vaccine is administered to children between the ages of 12 to 18 years although most cases occur in children below the age of 15 years. Newly born children and those whose immune system are not strong enough are at high risk of complications. Chickenpox vaccine is available as I write.

Let us look at Measles, Mumps and Rubella viruses.

The Measles virus causes rash, cough, runny nose, eye irritation, and fever. It can lead to ear infection, pneumonia, seizures, brain damage and death.

The Mumps virus causes fever, headache, and swollen glands. I still remember the puffy faces! Mumps can lead to deafness, meningitis (infection of the brain and spinal cord), painful swelling of the testicles or ovaries, and death, although rarely.

Rubella virus causes rash, mild fever, and arthritis, mostly in women. If a woman gets rubella while she is pregnant, she could have a miscarriage, or her baby could be born with serious side effects.

Now the vaccine used to prevent Measles, Mumps and Rubella is called the MMR vaccine. Most children who get the MMR shots will not get these diseases. And many children will get the virus if they stop vaccinating.

I have taken care to detail viruses and related vaccines which should be taken. A very large percentage of the world population take the vaccine although the risk of problems moves from mild to severe, meaning death. As I write, many people are taking the vaccine.

Indeed, I must emphasize that vaccines have existed for a very long time. And will continue to be with us.

We come now to the very crucial question: Why take a vaccine? Here are some reasons:

Vaccine-preventable diseases have not gone away. The viruses and bacteria that cause illness and death still exist and can be passed on to those who are not protected by vaccines.

Vaccines will help keep you healthy. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recommends vaccinations throughout your life to protect against may infections. When you do not take vaccines, you leave yourself open to illnesses which could be a danger to your life.

Vaccines are important to your overall health as diet and exercise. Like eating healthy foods, exercising and getting regular check-ups, vaccines play a vital role in keeping you healthy.

Vaccination can mean the difference between life and death. Vaccine preventable infections can be deadly. Monster

Vaccines are safe! The U.S. National Foundation for infectious diseases has clearly indicated that. The foundation insists that all licenced vaccines are safe.

Vaccines will not cause the diseases they are designed to prevent.

Young and healthy people can get very sick.

Vaccine-preventable diseases are expensive which means that they come with a high price tag.

When you get sick, your children, grandchildren, and parents may be at risk too. Indeed, the members of the community are also at risk

Indeed, your family and co-workers need you!

Now the monster virus is now with us. In a previous article I gave a lot of information on COVID-19 and its mutation, Delta. Delta is destined to kill all our people unless we do the right thing. Be vaccinated!

Last Monday, I accompanied by twin grandchildren to the Vigie Sports Complex to take the Pfizer vaccine, and I was consoled to see many parents like myself who brought their children to take the vaccine as well. If that trend continues, the situation will look bright for our families and country.

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