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(PRESS RELEASE) — The Department of Health and Wellness is taking a proactive approach to control the spread of the measles virus by sensitizing health care professionals around the island.
Health care professionals were granted the opportunity to acquire information about the guidelines for the prevention and control of the measles virus through a sensitization workshop held recently.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Sharon Belmar-George said although Saint Lucia has been free of measles since 1990, it is necessary that health care workers are sensitized about surveillance measures as to allow for prompt interventions, if cases are identified.
“The immunization program for measles started in 1982 and our last documented case of measles in Saint Lucia was 1990. So, as you could imagine, most of our health care workers would not have seen or manage the case of measles. With what is happening in the region and in the wider world, we note that the threat of measles outbreak is coming quite closer, so we are taking a very proactive step in ensuring that all of our health care workers are updated and sensitized so that we can have early detection if we were to get an imported case of measles coming into the island.”
Dr. Belmar-George said it is important that children are protected against measles by getting vaccinated.
“We have noted that in the last five to 10 years, some parents have chosen not to immunize their children. So, those children who have not immunized are at risk. The measles is a viral illness, it is an acute illness and it is one of the most infectious agents that you could get; so all we need is for one person with the measles virus to travel into St. Lucia, or for somebody from Saint Lucia who have not been fully immunized, to travel into an area where there is an outbreak and would now put persons who have not received their full schedule of vaccines or not immunized would be at risk for such a disease.”
The medical officer is appealing to parents to review their child’s health card and ensure it is updated.
Through the immunization program, the Department of Health and Wellness will be administering the vaccine for measles, free of charge.