The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment is joining with the rest of the world to observe the 13th Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA), April 25 to May 2.

The regional slogan for VWA 2015 is “Boost your power! Get vaccinated!” The slogan indicates that vaccines are weakened or killed pathogens that help the immune system fight diseases and prepare the body to fight off disease when exposed to full strength pathogens in the future.

Vaccination Week in the Americas is an initiative of the countries and territories of the Americas that work to advance equity and access to vaccination. This initiative focuses on reaching populations with limited access to regular health services and promotes solidity among countries.

Permanent Secretary Luis de Shong says that during this week, the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment will provide a visible platform to raise population awareness regarding the importance of immunisation, to highlight the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, to keep vaccines on the forefront of political agendas, and to highlight the gains of the immunisation programme.

“The immunisation programme in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has made enormous strides in reducing morbidity and mortality caused by vaccine preventable diseases, and our national coverage level for primary childhood vaccine is maintained at over 95 per cent,” de Shong said.

“Despite these gains and high coverage, we still have to be vigilant and continue to promote immunisation as the best public health intervention, and also place Immunization as a priority area for public health, even though diseases such as polio and measles rarely affect people in SVG. These diseases still exist in other countries and travellers can unknowingly bring these diseases into the country and infect people who have not been immunised,” he said.

de Shong said that without the protection from immunisation, these diseases could quickly spread through the population, causing epidemics.