Nassau, The Bahamas, June 30th, 2023 – The Pan American Health Organization and World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) Country Office for The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands hosted a Vaccine Promotion and Nurses’ Thank-You luncheon. This event recognized the hard-working efforts of nurses in The Bahamas’ Expanded Immunization Programme (EPI) and highlighted PAHO/WHO’s continued support towards achieving the goal of 95% coverage for childhood vaccinations.
Nearly 90 EPI Nurses were honoured for their contributions to that national vaccination campaign. Nurses from five Family Islands journeyed to the city of Nassau to participate in the momentous occasion.
As The Bahamas prepares for its 50th Independence Anniversary Celebrations, Dr Eldonna Boisson, PAHO/WHO Country Representative encouraged attendees to give the gift of 95% of immunizations coverage to the country by July 10th , which is the nation’s birthday.
Dr. Boisson further elaborated, ‘Not so long ago, the EPI programmes in the Caribbean were second to none in the world, maintaining the over 95% vaccination coverage that we need for herd immunity, which protects us all from vaccine preventable diseases, serious ones, like polio, measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis, etc.
As a matter of fact, the Region of the Americas was the first region to eliminate congenital rubella, rubella, measles, neonatal tetanus, and polio. However, as you are no doubt aware, in recent years, our vaccination coverage rates have been falling. They have now reached dangerously low levels, low enough to put us at risk of reintroduction and the spread of some of the diseases that we have not seen for many, many years. In The Bahamas, where tourism is thriving once again, there is a constant flow of people entering the country every day, some of which are coming from countries that have circulation of some of the vaccine preventable diseases that we eliminated. So, our risk of reintroduction of these diseases is real’.
Dr. Phillip Swann, Acting Chief Medical Officer of The Bahamas’ Ministry of Health and Wellness shared his appreciation to the EPI Nurses for their outstanding work throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
Dr. Danny Davis, EIR System Manager, presented on Vaccination coverage in The Bahamas: status and trends. Dr Davis also informed attendees of a new software that will bridge the gap between patients and healthcare workers.
Nurse Gina Ferguson-Rose, EPI Manager, paid homage to her predecessor Nurse Ruth Bastian and challenged nurses to protect The Bahamas, one vaccine at a time.
Dr. Boisson expressed her gratitude to the attendees. ‘So thank you to our EPI nurses and we hope that you enjoy this small token of our appreciation for all that you do, and all that we know you will continue to do, to get us to our target and to keep us safe. You are important to us, we appreciate you and we thank you’.