The Public Health Departments in both the Corozal and Northern Regional hospitals have been working hard to increase awareness of the importance of adhering to vaccination guidelines. The immunization program is an ongoing and critical one, and with so large an area of the northern districts comprised of rural communities, public health nurses have been kept busy. But this week is Vaccination Week in the Americas, and busy schedules notwithstanding, these nurses have ratcheted up the effort and are reaching out to spread the good word.

sheperdVionie Shepherd Public Health Nurse, Corozal

“We will be covering most of the villages and the town itself. Normally we would do all vaccinations in town and then the villages but this week we will be doing much more that we usually do throughout the year.”

According to Nurse Shepherd, the importance and success of the immunization program can be measured by the lack of vaccine-preventable diseases like measles in Belize today, but that certainly doesnt mean that health authorities will become complacent.

Vionie Shepherd Public Health Nurse, Corozal

“For measles per say the last case we had was in 2001 but we don’t want people to take that for granted because we did not have measles outbreak for quite some time. People travel and the disease has no boundaries so if some people travel out of Belize in areas where there are outbreaks they can bring back the disease to Belize and we can’t have that occurring here so that is why we are encouraging mothers that there is still a need to cover the entire country from vaccine preventable diseases.”

The nurses in the north have taken on a demanding job not only ensuring that all babies receive their shots but that parents adhere to the immunization schedule and the practice continues into young adulthood.

Vionie Shepherd Public Health Nurse, Corozal

“We encourage mothers to bring their babies to the hospital but we find that if mothers don’t come out and bring their babies to be immunized then we would go out and visit the babies at their home and this week we will be doing much more of that. While we still need to do more a lot of people are coming out and having their child immunized and as we mentioned before it is mostly the follow up visits that is the problem and we are talking about the four year old, ten year old and the twenty year old who need to come back for the follow up to be properly covered against vaccine preventable diseases.”

And if you still doubt the absolute importance of immunization, not only to the health of the individual but to the health of the nation, Nurse Shepherd had this final message.

Vionie Shepherd Public Health Nurse, Corozal

“It is very important because once you develop the disease it is very costly to treat and if there is a vaccine that can prevent the development of the disease it is very important for mothers to bring their child out and this will not only protect the child it will also protect the community because if a child develops a vaccine preventable disease in the community others who are not vaccinated within the community can develop the disease so it is important that everybody takes and active part in getting there immunization.”

PAHOs Vaccination Week in the Americas is being held in conjunction with National Infant Immunization Week, and hundreds of participating communities throughout the Western Hemisphere have planned community awareness, education and media events to promote infant and child immunizations to parents, caregivers and health care professionals.


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