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Belizean healthcare workers celebrate Vaccination Week in the Americas, committed to facing challenges going forward

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Posted: Tuesday, April 28, 2020. 3:41 pm CST.

By BBN Staff: Belize joins with the rest of the World Health Organization (WHO) member countries this week to commemorate 2020’s Vaccination Week in the Americas, which is being observed under the theme “Love. Trust. Protect. #GetVax.”

The Ministry of Health notes that the activities planned for this year’s observance of Vaccination Week were adjusted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in an effort to avoid unnecessary exposure of parents and their children. The Ministry also highlighted that Belize has maintained sustained vaccine coverage of over 95% for the past 10 years and is aiming to continue that trend. The MOH is taking the opportunity to follow up with parents of children who are  nine, 12, and 18 months to see how best to keep their vaccination schedules.

Or newsroom spoke with Dr. Natalia Beer, Maternal and Child Health Advisor for the MOH, who said that this year’s Vaccination Week comes at a challenging time for healthcare workers such as public health and rural health nurses, who have taken it upon themselves, in light of the restriction of movement brought on by the State of Emergency, to use their personal phones to call and follow up with parents regarding vaccination of their children. Beer noted that both local telecommunications companies have rolled out packages in support of medical staff which should make the work easier, but the fact that the healthcare workers took the initiative is a testament to their commitment to the health and well being of Belizeans and should be commended.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic the immunization program had to be scaled down…but the public health nurses and the rural health nurses and the doctors are cognizant that once we get out of the emergency state that we have to work beyond the expected to help women and children to catch up with their vaccination schedules. It has been said on multiple occasions that we cannot go back to ‘normal” so we will have to make changes on how we deliver the service,” Beer said.

She stressed that vaccination and surveillance efforts need to be maintained in Belize for measles, which is far more contagious than COVID-19, and is currently showing increased cases in neighboring countries. The MOH has had three suspected cases of measles in Belize since the start of 2020, but tests done Caribbean Public Health Agency Medical Laboratory in Trinidad proved all three to be negative.

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