February 20, 2024

Cayman Islands premier’s message on Health Week

Premier McLaughlin officialMessage from Minister of Home Affairs, Health and Culture

Hon. Alden McLaughlin, JP

Vaccination Week in the Americas 2016

23-30 April, 2016

 Commencing on Saturday 23 April, the Cayman Islands will join other countries in the Region of the Americas to observe the 14th Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA).

The week of activities runs from 23-30 April, 2016, under the slogan “Go for the gold! Get vaccinated!” This aims to build on the momentum leading up to the celebration of the Summer Olympics games to be held in Brazil in August 2016.

Vaccination Week is an annual hemispheric event endorsed by the Directing Council of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) that aims to save persons from deadly vaccine preventable diseases.

The initiative was a result of a proposal in 2002 by the Ministers of Health in the Andean Region to protect the Americas from a resurgence of measles.

Every April since 2003, the VWA has drawn attention to the essential work of national immunisation programmes and efforts to improve access to life-saving vaccines across the lifespan.

To date, more than 580 million people have been vaccinated under the umbrella of this initiative. Yet, even today, more than 1.5 million children in the region of the Americas do not complete their basic vaccination schedules. This has led to many of them dying from diseases, which could have been easily prevented by vaccination.

According to the World Health Organization, immunisation is one of the most successful and cost-effective health interventions of the 20th century. Infants and senior citizens benefit from a simple regimen of shots that prevent millions of deaths every year, and provides protection against life-threatening diseases like: polio, diphtheria, measles, tetanus, some cancers and many more.

The countries of the Americas have been world leaders in the elimination and control of vaccine-preventable diseases. The region was the first to eradicate smallpox in 1971 and polio in 1991. The Caribbean itself has been free of indigenous measles for over 20 years.

Here in the Cayman Islands, an immunisation programme that is more than 60 years old has eliminated small pox, polio, neonatal tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, measles, and rubella (German measles).

As we commemorate the history of this important service in our region, I am pleased that the Cayman Islands is among the leading countries that offer free vaccines to all children through our Public Health Department.

I urge all parents to check their children’s immunisation records and to ensure that their immunisations are up to date. You can also contact the Public Health Department or nearest District Health Centre to schedule an appointment for your child to receive missed doses of vaccines.

While we take pride in having achieved immunisation rates of over 95% of infants against some diseases and 96% at school entry, these statistics suggest that our work is unfinished. Steadfast, we will move forward.

To achieve higher rates in immunisation, we must continue to share responsibility and foster and maintain partnership between healthcare workers and parents/guardians alike.

Government is committed to this collaboration to protect the people of the Cayman Islands.

Vaccination is an act of love.

Thank you.

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