From April 22nd to 29th, 2023, Saint Kitts and Nevis, as well as other countries and territories of the Region of the Americas, celebrates the 21st annual Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA) and the 12th World Immunization Week (WIW) under the theme: “Get up-to-date. #EachVaccineCounts”.
Vaccination Week is celebrated the last week of April each year.
During the week, a series of activities will take place to raise awareness and sensitize the public to the significance of immunization.
Prime Minister and Minister of Health, the Honorable Dr Terrance Drew in his Vaccination Week Address, which kicked off the week’s celebration on Saturday 22nd April, shared the focus of the week for the Federation.
“This year’s call to action: “Get up-to-date. #EachVaccineCounts” provides an opportunity to reinforce messages about the effectiveness and safety of vaccines, benefits provided by vaccination, demonstrate the importance of receiving all doses of all vaccines included in our national immunization schedule and to share the successes of our Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI),” he said.
He added that in Saint Kitts and Nevis, this year’s VWA campaign will focus on Human Papillomavirus Vaccine (HPV): re-sensitization of the public about its benefits in protecting individuals and loved ones, locating and immunizing those persons who were difficult to reach and failed to receive vaccines in 2022, and Tetanus Toxoid Vaccine: sensitizing farmers about the importance of this vaccine for their healthy living.”
During his address, the Minister of Health highlighted vaccine-preventable diseases that have resurfaced due to vaccine avoidance.
“Some of us have never seen some of these vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs), and some parents probably think that there is no real harm for infection, hence no need for urgency in keeping vaccine appointments or consenting to vaccinate our children. Polio has been eliminated from the Caribbean region since 1982. However, recently two unvaccinated individuals with no travel history presented to health facilities with paralysis of limbs and were tested and diagnosed with polio in New York City [in July 2022] and in Peru [in March 2023].”
Vaccination Week of activities includes a series of sensitization initiatives including a Sensitization of HPV Vaccine and Mop-Up of grade six (6) students at the various health centres and a Mop –Up of all antigens for children 1-5 years of age.
On Wednesday 26th April, a Vaccine Fitness Fete at 4:30 pm, which is open to the public, will be held at the Basseterre Health Centre Parking Lot.
The sensitization drive continues Friday 27th and 28th April, with Sensitization of DT Vaccine to Farmers and General Public: Administration of Tetanus Vaccine, at the Agriculture Fair, at the Royal Basseterre Valley National Park, located next to the National Heroes Park.
The Ministry of Health urges parents to take all reasonable steps to ensure that their children receive their recommended vaccinations. All vaccinations on the schedule are accessible to the public.