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Sands: We have a strategy for measles

Amid a global outbreak of measles, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday that The Bahamas has a strategy to “avoid the kind of problems you see in other countries”.

On Monday, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that measles cases worldwide rose 300 percent during the first three months of 2019 compared to the same period last year.

There were two cases of measles reported in The Bahamas this year, the first since 1997. Both cases were from visitors to The Bahamas.

“We thought that we were on the road to eradication,” Sands said.

“Certainly, The Bahamas and the entire region of the Americas had no cases of measles.

“…So, to now have this rapid increase in the number of cases of measles is in large part due to the fact that there are groups of people who, for whatever reason, refuse to be vaccinated or refuse to have their children vaccinated.”

He continued, “A disease which is both preventable and which was close to being eradicated has now come back with a vengeance.

“And it is not just a disease that creates casual interest, it is a killer.

“You’re watching people die needlessly and we don’t know how much worse this is going to get.

“But certainly, in a number of countries, for instance in Madagascar, they have had an epidemic that has killed more than 1,200 people.

“They have had 115,000 cases in the past six months. This is not a game.”

When asked if The Bahamas can resist an outbreak, Sands said it is up to the vaccination rates.

“Well, we have determined that our current immunization levels are not as good as we’d like,” he said.

“They’re not bad. We’re about 89 to 90 percent.

“We would like to be at 95 percent.

“We have outlined a strategy, a public health strategy, to avoid the kind of problems you see in other countries.”

On February 21, in a memorandum, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Delon Brennen said that while toddlers in The Bahamas will still be required to receive their first Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccination at age one, the second dose will now be given to children who are 15 months.

The second dose was previously given to children between ages four and five.

That change took effect April 1.

Sands said that the change has not caused any complications thus far.

Sands added that the Vaccination Act, which was last updated in 1860 and imposed a $4 penalty on parents or guardians for failing to vaccinate their children, must be updated.

Laurent Rolle

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Laurent started at The Nassau Guardian in May 2018 as a paginator. He transitioned to reporting in February 2019. Laurent has covered multiple crime stories. He is the author of “Yello”, which was published in February 2019.
Education: Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) 3rd Year

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