St Lucia- Ministry of Health to expand vaccination coverage

Despite excellent vaccination coverage for babies, data shows a 60 – 80 percent administration of the MMR 2 vaccine for toddlers and infants.
The Ministry of Health, Wellness, Human Services and Gender Relations, in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), will undertake a Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) Coverage survey within the months of April and May 2015 to determine the MMR coverage for children born between 2004 and 2009.
The survey will focus on children in grades Kindergarten to five, and will randomly select children from each grade to be interviewed along with their parents.
“In Saint Lucia we have what we call an Expanded Program of Immunization (EPI), which has, over the years, sustained 95 percent vaccination coverage for all antigens among children aged a few months to one year,” Senior Medical Officer for Infectious Diseases, Dr. Alisha Eugene, said. “However the MMR vaccination for the age group two to five has been a bit of concern to us over the last 10 years because of a 60 to 80 percent coverage—hence the reason for this survey.”
Immunization Manger with the Ministry of Health, Julietta Frederick-Cassius, said as of last week, Saint Lucia was officially certified as having eliminated measles, rubella and congenital rubella syndrome. However she noted that in St. Lucia, as in other Caribbean countries, it is a challenge to administer the second dose of the MMR vaccine.
“It has been recommended that we change the MMR 2 vaccination schedule to be administered at 18 months together with the DPT polio booster rather than at four to five years as we have been doing,” Ms. Cassius said. “That change will commence in January 2016.”
She added that the global community is also striving to eliminate polio by the year 2020, and so countries have been urged to implement various strategies to maintain elimination rates.
Vaccines are procured by the Ministry of Health in partnership with PAHO, and are administered free of charge to children at public health care facilities and public schools. (Source GIS St Lucia)

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