As health experts conclude the 36th meeting of the Caribbean Immunization Managers in Antigua and Barbuda today Thursday, one thing is for sure; there’s an urgent need to restore public confidence in vaccines
The three-day meeting being held at Sandals Grande Resort and Spa found that vaccination rates took a drastic plunge during the Covid-19 pandemic. Immunization programs within the region were already suggesting pushback from various sectors of society especially the Rastafarians
But the pandemic, experts say dealt a major blow to the program.
The gathering aims to expand the program of immunization in the region of the Americas and the Caribbean but the Head of family Immunization at PAHO Daniel Salas said there’s a continuous challenge on how to prove that vaccination is crucial to public health.
“We are facing a backslide in immunization, that we have not seen in the last decade. We need to question ourselves on how we can re-invigorate immunization, and how can we surpass what we have gained in the past because the region has been a leader in the world in terms of immunization. However right now, we are second to the last in the region of the WHO,” he said.
Saying that it is a very serious situation, Dr. Salas says the Caribbean must push itself to go further where immunization is concerned.
“We have the health of our people in our hands. We have the future of many of the children who live here in our hands. It is a very serious situation. We need to go beyond to reach those we have not reached before,” he said.
Meanwhile, Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr. Teri Joseph said if anything at all, the Covid-19 pandemic proved to the world, how important immunization is in saving lives and protecting others.
“We have seen how the Covid-19 vaccines saved lives but despite that fact vaccines saved lives; people are becoming more apprehensive to taking something that has been saving their lives all this time,” she said.
Dr. Joseph said perhaps the apprehension stems from the fact that people have never really been privy to information on how vaccines are developed and tested.
She said the challenge ahead is to gain the public’s confidence that vaccines are safe and important to saving lives and improving health.