Letters & Opinion

Vaccines: Trustworthy Friends of Ours

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

THE Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs, through the Chief Medical Officer, recently announced that the new Covid-19 HV.1 variant has been confirmed in St. Lucia.

Indeed, the new Covid-19 variant in now the dominant strain in the United States of America. She went on to provide statistics to prove her point.

The CMO has indicated that there has been an increase in the number of persons presenting themselves, at health institutions, with flu-like symptoms and that children less than five years were identified.

Now the World Health Organization has disclosed, that on a global level, in January 2024, there was a 42 percent increase in COVID -19 hospitalizations and a 62 percent increase in ICU admissions compared to the previous month.

Indeed, I was in conversation with a cousin in the United States, who indicated that a number of persons in the state where he lives had come down with the Covid-19 virus.

Now from my own recollection, the Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs had indicated that there were about 450 persons with the Covid -19 virous towards the end of 2023.

It would seem that the Covid-19 virus has not gone away in St. Lucia, and it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

With all of that information, persons in St. Lucia do not seem to worry too much about the current situation. In recent times, I have seen only two persons wearing masks. Perhaps because the variant is not known to cause severe disease even though it is highly transmissible.

The government of St. Lucia, through the Ministry of Health, Wellness and Elderly Affairs has made vaccines available to all, at the Wellness Centres throughout the island.

However, we all are aware of the negativity associated with vaccines among many St. Lucians. In fact, I am not sure that they care about the restrictions that may be imposed on them, if the variant situation becomes very critical.

What is vaccination ? Vaccination is a simple, safe, and effective way of protecting a person against harmful diseases, before you come into contact with them.

Now, how do vaccines work ? Vaccines work by teaching the body’s immune system system to recognise and defend against harmful viruses or bacteria before getting an infection, and reduce the chance of getting certain infectious deseases.

Getting certain vaccines while a woman is pregnant helps to protect both mother and her unborn baby from serious diseases.

Women are advised to talk to their health providers about which vaccines they need so that they could be updated before pregnancy.

Now vaccines are safe and effective for children to receive at recommended ages. For example, at age 1 to 2 months a baby should receive vaccines to protect them from a variety of diseases, such as: Diphtheria, tetanus and whopping cough (DPT).

Babies who are 3 to 4 months old should receive an RSV Immunization, if not previously received to protect them against RSV disease. RSV means Respiratory Syncytial Virus.

Now, at 5 to 6 months old, your baby is ready for another round of vaccines, including their first flu vaccine. As your little ones continue to grow and develop, parents should help protect them from potentially serious diseases.

Indeed, the Centre for Disease Control has recommended that everyone aged 6 months and older should be vaccinated against COVID-19. If your child has not gotten vaccinated yet, you may talk to your health care provider or you may go to any of our Health and Wellness Centres to be vaccinated as soon as possible.

There is no specific age-based vaccination during the age range 7 to 11 months. However, flu is a respiratory illness caused by influenzer of any age with certain chronic conditions including asthma. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every year by the end of October.

I have lived in the United States of America for some time. I can tell you that when September and October come I take the flu vaccine just before the winter season.

Indeed, the health authorities remind and encourage people to take the flu vaccine. And to be honest, they go to the health institutions to get vaccinated.

Now, between 12 and 23 months of age, your baby should receive vaccines to protect them from the following disease:

Chicken Pox also called varicella; (b) Diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough also called pertussis (DPT); (c) Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR); (d) polio; (e) Pneumococcal disease;  (f) Influenza. There are a few others that are take between that age range.
Now at ages 7years and over the CDC recommends that persons in that age range should take the COVID -19 vaccination.

The information provided was obtained from the Centre of Disease Control and Prevention, situated in the United States of America. It is a United States agency under the Department of Health and Human Services and is Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.

My dear reader, it is important to know and understand the importance of vaccines and the reasons why we should be vaccinated.

Vaccines are really our friends and we should care about our health.

This article has been written with the intention of providing simplified information that everyone can understand regarding vaccines, so that they could be embraced fully.

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