Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Director Dr. Carissa Etienne has called on member countries to take steps to contain the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases, such as measles and rubella, while simultaneously undertaking coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccinations.
She said COVID-19 caused significant disruptions to immunization programs in countries across the Americas, noting that “our health systems are stretched, and, in many places, it has been difficult to access essential services like vaccinations.”
She pointed out that while many countries have acted quickly and provided services outside of the traditional healthcare, consequent on the numerous individuals contracting COVID-19 and getting sick, “hundreds of thousands of children have missed out on their routine immunizations against diseases like measles, tetanus and whooping cough”.
“Thankfully, decades of immunization successes have prepared the region for this very moment. The Americas has a longstanding and exemplary tradition as vaccine champions, having succeeded in eliminating polio, measles and rubella,” the Director added.
Dr. Etienne informed that PAHO, through its Revolving Fund for Vaccines facility, delivered more than 27 million doses of influenza vaccines across the region in 2020, in addition to millions to protect youngsters against childhood diseases through routine immunizations.
She also pointed out that this year, “We have [to date] delivered more than 4.2 million doses of COVID vaccines to more than 29 countries in our region,” adding that “we are just getting started.”
Dr. Etienne emphasized that citizens of member countries “have a collective responsibility” to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and help in protecting others with safe and effective vaccines.
“So do your part by getting a COVID-19 vaccine when it is your turn, and make sure your children receive their childhood vaccinations as well,” she urged.
Readers Bureau, Contributor
Edited by Jesus Chan
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