Immunization status of health volunteers highlighted in ministry report

A situation report from the Ministry of Health recently raised concerns about the unknown immunization status of healthcare professionals working with Hurricane Dorian victims.

However, Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands reassured, “There is no significant actual risk.”

He continued, “The matter has been raised, given the rise of the anti-vaccination movement and the emergence of measles as well as the introduction of cholera into Haiti by non-Haitians.”

The anti-vaccine movement, fueled by debunked science linking vaccines to autism, has influenced people across the world not to vaccinate.

Sands previously expressed concern over the current level of vaccine coverage in the country, adding that effective vaccination strategies are important in avoiding preventable illnesses.

Earlier this year, he indicated that 15,000 children have not been vaccinated in the country despite the vaccinations being mandatory by law. In the report, which was dated November 22, 2019, the ministry also noted that it will adjust its communication with new volunteers, requesting documentation of their updated immunization status through a volunteer health portal.

The report did not indicate how many volunteers have missing documentation, as Sands said this isn’t something the ministry asks of health professionals.

The report noted, however, that the ministry received a total of 693 expressions of interest for non-EMT volunteers. Out of this number, 294 have been approved. This includes 167 physicians, 80 nurses, 15 psychosocial support professionals, 13 allied health professionals and 32 non-medical.

One hundred sixty-two of these volunteers have been deployed.

The report also noted that there is “a persisting community” of unregistered or undocumented volunteers in New Providence, Abaco, Grand Bahama and their cays.

It added, “Though no major medical malfeasance has been identified, for due diligence on the part of the Ministry of Health, the same should be encouraged to register for temporary licensure.”

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