PAHO Urges Countries To Maintain Vaccination

April 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization [PAHO/WHO] experts said that the countries must strengthen vaccination against seasonal influenza and measles to prevent respiratory illness and vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A spokesperson said, “Countries must strengthen vaccination against seasonal influenza and measles to prevent respiratory illness and vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks during the COVID-19 pandemic, say experts at the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization [PAHO/WHO].

“The recommendations come on the cusp of the 18th Vaccination Week in the Americas, which will take place April 25 – May 2 with the slogan “Love. Trust. Protect. #GetVax.” Since 2003, more than 806 million people of all ages have been vaccinated against a wide range of dangerous diseases under the regional initiative promoted by PAHO.

“Vaccines save lives and must be maintained even during the COVID-19 pandemic. The most vulnerables should not suffer the consequences of not getting the vaccines they need,” said PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne. “I commend countries in this Region that have already adapted their campaigns to this ‘new reality’and are making great efforts to keep vaccinating in a safe manner.”

“Vaccinating to prevent serious respiratory illness from flu and stop measles outbreaks is key to protecting people while helping health systems focus on the response to COVID-19. Some 17 countries in the Americas have reported they are using the Vaccination Week in the Americas platform to vaccinate against influenza, and other 17 plan to vaccinate against measles.

“Three countries in the Americas – Argentina, Brazil and Mexico – are currently battling measles outbreaks, as well as dealing with COVID-19 cases. PAHO has recommended that primary health care providers vaccinate against measles while taking measures to protect communities and health care workers from COVID-19.

Health workers are vaccine heroes

“Immunization continues to be an essential service that must continue to keep people healthy and reduce burdens on health services so they can respond more effectively to COVID-19.

“Vaccination is key not just for our communities, but also for our health care workers,” said Cuauhtemoc Ruiz Matus, head of the Comprehensive Family Immunization program at PAHO. “We vaccinate to protect them just as much as to protect ourselves.” He added that a special focus on influenza vaccination to protect vulnerable populations is advisable this year, given the coming winter in South America and the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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