Region Three has recorded a close to 100 percent vaccination coverage of children, according to Regional Health Office, Dr Ravindranauth Persaud.
“Even though during our scheduled vaccination programme we have been able to cover about 98 percent of children, we still have an ongoing activity to continue to ensure that our people are immunised,” Dr Persaud disclosed.
He revealed that the Region has adapted a style where health workers from the various Maternal and Child Health Departments venture into the field when there are outbreaks of diarrhoeal diseases and offer vaccination services.
“We just call up our senior staff in the MCH department and we hold meetings and mobilise the necessary mechanisms and head into the field, but we do not leave our health facilities void of necessary staff in the process.”
Dr Persaud’s disclosure was forthcoming yesterday when the Region kicked off its observance of Vaccination Week with activities, inclusive of a walkathon, a mini exhibition and vaccination campaign.
Region Three has 16 health centres and 19 health posts situated at strategic locations along the West Bank, West Coast, East Bank Essequibo and also the Essequibo Islands that cater to the vaccination needs of the Region.
And in order to further bolster the vaccination record, Dr Persaud said that the Region will use the observance of Vaccination Week to further raise awareness among the growing population in the Region.
“We are trying to sensitise people about vaccination because it is so important… vaccination protects against many infections and communicable diseases as well.”
Vaccination Week is usually observed during a week set aside in the month of April and activities will this year be conducted under the theme “Immunise your family, protect your community.”
The activities, which will mainly be characterised by intensified vaccination efforts in the Region, will continue until tomorrow, according to Senior Health Visitor, Linda Johnson.
With a banner emphasizing the importance of vaccination, the representatives from various health centres of the Region briskly strutted from the Crane Turn to the Vreed-en-Hoop Stelling tarmac, where they gathered for an opening ceremony to mark the start of the exhibition and vaccination campaign.
The exhibition and the campaign, according to Nurse Johnson, were designed to target the general public hence the stelling location was seen as the best suited venue.
“It doesn’t matter if you live in or out of the Region…we are here so we can capture people travelling to and fro; it is available to everybody, the young, the old, youths, everybody,” Johnson insisted.
The primary vaccine which was being offered yesterday was the MMR vaccine which is intended to guard against measles, mumps and rubella.
According to Nurse Johnson, it was the decision of the Ministry of Health to introduce a move which is being dubbed a ‘Mop-up campaign’ as it relates to the MMR vaccine. This move, she said, is intended to target all those individuals who have not yet been afforded an MMR vaccine.
In addition, Yellow Fever, Hepatitis B and tetanus vaccines were being provided to the public yesterday. The exhibition aspect of the activities was designed to offer persons relevant information as it relates to vaccination and answer questions of concern.
“If people have any queries whatsoever as it relates to vaccination we would like to address them today (yesterday). We have some things on display that we can explain to them which could be beneficial. Our aim, too, is to inform people of what can happen if they are not immunised and we are willing to explain this in detail.”
Yesterday’s extensive activities marked the first time that such an undertaking was conducted in the Region, according to Nurse Johnson. Last year, Vaccination Week took on the form of a vaccination campaign which saw two major teams being dispatched on the West Coast and West Bank of Demerara.
On that occasion, the health teams had focused mainly on administering the HINI vaccine. Nurse Johnson revealed that Region Three has been able to reap successes in the area of vaccination by sustaining outreach measures.
“Mothers are coming out to us but because there is this constant shift of people moving from place to place…We go out into the community to find them. We go out into the community with our carriers, and we look for homes with children; we ask for their immunisation cards and we immunise and invite them to come to the closest health centre.”
Even with this method, Nurse Johnson admitted that some persons are able to slip through the cracks and therefore go undetected, but “we try to close in the gap. This is why we have been working every year with a target for each age group.”
With the target in place, she disclosed that the Region is able to look at its performance percentage-wise, thus health workers are able to deduce how much of the population is being reached and how many are being missed.
Yesterday, Parika Health Centre was duly rewarded with a plaque for being able to administer the most doses of rotavirus vaccines last year.
However, they stand to lose the accolade if they do not maintain a superior immunisation percentage during the course of this year.
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