In an interview with JTV 55 News, Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) Manager at the BVIHSA, Marina Bedeau said the BVI has a history of coverage of 98-100 per cent in childhood vaccines but that has declined since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared.
“We looked at different reasons why it happened. Initially, we say okay, parents and guardians are afraid to come out because of the lockdowns that we had prevented them from coming—the social distancing, they were not coming to the clinics. But now that we are in a decline where they have time to go, [they] do every other thing. They can take their children to any other clinics — clinics that they are used to — to have the children vaccinated, especially now that school will be reopened. The children are required to be vaccinated for entry into school,” Bedeau said.
She reminded parents the vaccines the children must get are Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (DTaP vaccine), Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) and Varicella which protects against chicken pox. She also noted they are all mandatory vaccines for children.
“We have had quite a few persons coming in refusing to have the children vaccinated because of the same COVID vaccines. And so, we try now to see how we can get them to please continue the children’s immunization at the various clinics,” Bedeau said.
Meanwhile, Acting Interim Chief Executive Officer of the BVIHSA Dr June Samuel highlighted that parents must vaccinate their children as there is the re-emergence of diseases internationally.
“This issue about parents having their children vaccinated, we would be aware and we’re mindful that there is now a resurgence of polio in the US and there have been outbreaks of measles in the past as well. Now it’s a very international world. People move from one place to the next very easily. So, one of the issues is if we let our vaccination coverage fall too low, then we lose the advantage of having herd immunity… or we have the reintroduction of the diseases that we already have eradicated. So that’s something we don’t want to have to deal with—polio remerging in the BVI,” Dr. Samuels said.