Vaccination Week in the Americas 2018 – Message from Cayman Islands Minister
21 to 28 April 2018
This month, from April 21 to 28, the Cayman Islands and other countries in the region will celebrate the 16th Vaccination Week in the Americas, with a soccer theme in honour of the 2018 World Cup.
The campaign slogan “Strengthen your defense! #GetVax #VaccinesWork” links strengthening defence on the football team with strengthening the body’s defence against vaccine-preventable diseases. It is noteworthy that, since its inception in 2003, more than 700 million individuals of all ages have been vaccinated under the framework of Vaccination Week in the Americas
It is also important to note that 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 last endemic case of indigenous measles was reported in 2002, and the Caribbean has been free of indigenous measles for more than 25 years.
Indigenous rubella (German measles) has also been eliminated from the Americas, with the last case reported in 2009. Incidences of other vaccine-preventable diseases such as tuberculosis, haemophilus influenza type B infection, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis have decreased significantly.
Due to our very robust immunisation programme in the Cayman Islands, headed by the Public Health Department for more than 65 years, we have surely seen the results of hard work and diligence. I am proud to say that we have eliminated small pox, polio, neonatal tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, measles, rubella (German measles), mumps, and tuberculous meningitis.
As Minister of Health, I use this platform to reaffirm my commitment to support the strengthening of all public health initiatives and outputs to ensure eradicated diseases do not reappear in our beautiful islands. This feat, however, cannot be achieved in isolation – it requires us all to work together.
I encourage everyone to check the immunisation status of themselves and family members, including checks for any boosters that may be needed and for vaccinations that are required before travel. The Public Health Department can provide the necessary vaccinations.
No doubt some residents will travel to Russia this summer to witness what is arguably the greatest game on earth. Remember that the athletes you will see on the field are testimony of actions each took to demonstrate the strengthening of their defence against disease.
As we celebrate Vaccination Week in the Americas, please use the occasion as a reminder to get any vaccinations required.