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Earlier in the month of February, the ministry conducted another round of training facilitated by the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) for medical practitioners on Vaccine Preventable Disease Surveillance.
According to the Immunization Manager at the Ministry of Health, Nurse Julietta Frederick-Cassius while St. Lucia has been able to eliminate nearly all of the vaccine preventable diseases these diseases still exist in other countries therefore the Ministry of Health has continued to be vigilant to pickup any case which may occur.
In reference to St. Lucia’s immunization readiness for a disease such as measles which has been circulating in the United States, Nurse Cassius remarked. “We’ve done very well with our immunization coverage in St. Lucia. Our (MMR) Measles, Mumps, Rubella coverage has been above 95% which beats PAHO’s target. So we have been doing very well in terms of our children being fully immunized against Measles, Mumps and Rubella.”
Dr. Carolina Danovaro, Regional Communications Advisor with PAHO and one on the facilitators at the training workshop said this training serves as a refresher for the medical practitioners in case definitions for vaccine preventable diseases particularly as these diseases have not been seen in St. Lucia for a long time but it’s important to be vigilant. “With the number of tourist that come to the island we need to be prepared to detect any importation and to act quickly to prevent the spread.” The doctor marked.
Dr. Danovaro added “We have not had endemic measles transmission in the Americas since 2002 but we do get imported cases basically people who come from other parts of the world, who come sick but if your community is not fully immunized it can spread to people who have not received the vaccine or those rear cases that don’t respond to the vaccine.”
The measles outbreak in the United States reportedly began in Disney Land in mid December 2014 and spread to other states and countries including Mexico. “It’s just a reminder that diseases that seem forgotten or lost or gone can come back anytime if people as not immunized.” Dr. Danvaro stated.
St. Lucia the PAHO Official noted would receive a passing grade for its high level of immunization coverage however there is always room for improvement, “because of the success you don’t forget that you need to keep it up and continue vaccinating and doing surveillance.”