The Department of Health is this week observing the 16th Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA) as work is underway to recapture the high level of immunization once achieved in Bermuda.
The weeklong focus comes through Bermuda’s association with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), the specialized international health agency for the Americas.
The campaign slogan is “Strengthen your defense! #GetVax #VaccinesWork.
PAHO works with countries throughout the region to improve and protect people's health. It provides technical cooperation to fight communicable and non-communicable diseases and their causes, to strengthen health systems, and to respond to emergencies and disasters.
Over the last decade, even as empirical evidence continues to underline the importance of vaccines, Health officials across the Americas find they have had to answer more and more questions about their safety.
The Department of Health’s Child Health Coordinator Lynn Jackson said, “The safety and effectiveness of vaccines are under constant study.
“Because vaccines are designed to be given routinely to children, they must be extraordinarily safe. Safety testing begins as soon as a new vaccine is contemplated, continues until it is licensed, and is monitored indefinitely after being licensed.”
In Bermuda, the coverage of vaccine usage decreased for 2017 – down for infants up to 6 months of age - from 94 percent to 79 percent.
Ms Jackson said this has important implications for the entire community.
She pointed out: “When more people choose not to vaccinate the risk of getting the disease is greater, especially for the most vulnerable – infants and the elderly.
“But when 95% of all children receive the vaccines as recommended it will help protect those who can’t be vaccinated or who are too young to be vaccinated.
“The practice of delaying vaccination for infants and young children merely delays their protection from the disease.”