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Immunization Coverage to Increase

Antigua St. John’s – Approximately 40 nurses from various categories of the Nursing fraternity, to include midwives and Public Health Nurses, gathered yesterday at their Antigua and Barbuda Nurses Association Headquarters on Queen Elizabeth Highway, for a half day immunization workshop.

The workshop which was facilitated by the Health Ministry with support from the Pan American Health Organization, seeks to sensitize community nurses on strategies to increase, improve, and bolster the immunization coverage in Antigua and Barbuda.

Principal Nursing Officer Ms. Elenora Warner, commended the participants on a job well done over the years and stated that their efforts to sustain the immunization program ‘ is reflective in the kind of results that we see, in that, Antigua and Barbuda has a very good percentage of immunization coverage.’ However, she stated that although this is good, there is always room for improvement.

She said that even though Antigua and Barbuda has a high immunization coverage it is always good to come together to examine and identify strengths and weaknesses and to look at opportunities that can help with new strategies and approaches to combat the ongoing fight in keeping the nation of Antigua and Barbuda’s immunization coverage at its highest.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Country Program Specialist, Mr. Edward Emmanuel also made brief remarks. He said that he was glad to be associated with the exercise to fortify the program as well as his organization. He spoke about the importance of immunization, the prevention of diseases and mortality which are major goals of the Public Health Service.

While outlining the importance of the program he stated that not being immunized can result in increased health care cost to families, disability and sometimes death. He stated that immunization protects not only the individual but also the community and by extension the region. Without immunization against certain diseases there could be serious implications for us as a regional community since most of the Caribbean islands depend on tourism based economies.

An overview of the workshop on strategies to improve coverage in Antigua and Barbuda was done by the Superintendent of Public Health Nurses, Mrs. Coralita Joseph while Colin O’Neal, Public Relations officer in the Health Ministry, produced and presented bi-lingual pamphlets as well as audio and video productions of public service announcements on the importance of immunization.

In Antigua and Barbuda infants and children are vaccinated against diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough (pertussis), hepatitis b, meningitis, measles, mumps, rubella and polio. Vaccinations against these diseases are given free of cost
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