Following outbreaks of Measles and other infectious diseases in other regions, Health Minister Kim Wilson today urged parents to ensure that their family members are vaccinated, particularly when it comes down to the immunization of infants and completing the vaccination schedule through to adulthood.
Speaking at a news conference this morning, the Minister said due to outbreaks in North America and Europe, she urged people who had become resistant to life-saving treatment and prevention due to misinformation and hearsay, to “find reliable, scientifically sound information, and to distinguish fact from fiction”.
“The Ministry is concerned about the influence of non-scientific information and hearsay which causes some to resist the idea of vaccination,” said the Minister, who said the Department of Health has launched a working group to tackle “vaccine hesitancy”.
“We have put together a working group to explore vaccine hesitancy, and further details of activities will be forth coming during Vaccination Week in April.
“By skipping vaccinations, you are endangering your own and others’ health. By getting vaccinated you are protecting yourself. You are also protecting your family, friends, colleagues and the larger community.“I feel strongly that if we all choose to get vaccinated against all vaccine-preventable diseases we will protect ourselves and our children from diseases we should no longer be worrying about.”
Her comments were echoed by Government’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Cheryl Peek-Ball.
“While most people are aware of the benefits of vaccination and the prevention of vaccine-preventable diseases, many have questioned the value, and this is based on misinformation and misconceptions, inaccurate published reports, non-scientific social media posts and all sorts of anti-vaccination stories,” said Ms Wilson.
“Choosing not to vaccinate against preventable diseases has resulted in a return of diseases we thought the world would no longer have to fear, such as Polio, diphtheria and the measles in particular — all an increasing threat.
“If Bermuda is to remain safe from serious illnesses, everyone must get the facts about vaccine safety and the need to protect themselves, their family and the community against those diseases,” she added.
Globally, she said “vaccines prevented between two million and three million deaths globally every year”.
And at the height of flu season, the Minister reiterated that there has been an increase in numbers and in the severity of flu cases here in recent weeks.
“I cannot stress enough how important it is to the public to protect themselves from the flu with vaccination, especially children, the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions,” said Ms Wilson.
“These persons are strongly advised to seek medical attention early if they have any flu-like symptoms.”
Those symptoms include running a fever at a temperature of 104F, headaches, chills, sore throat, runny nose, cough with body aches and pains.
Anyone with these symptoms are advised to stay at home with plenty of bed rest for at least 24 hours after the fever has passed.
“Bermuda is also at risk for the return of measles, due to the current outbreaks in nearby regions, particularly in North America and Europe,” said the Minister.
“I strongly encourage people who choose not to vaccinate to protect themselves or their children from preventable diseases to find reliable, scientifically sound information and to distinguish fact from fiction.
“The ministry is concerned about the influence of non-scientific information and hearsay, which causes some to resist the idea of vaccination. We refer to this as vaccine hesitancy.
“To this end the Department of Health is working with its stakeholders in a collaborative effort to address vaccine hesitancy in our community.” She explained that a working group was established and further details would be made available during vaccination week in April.
“By skipping vaccinations, you are endangering your own life and the lives of others.
“By getting vaccinated, you are protecting yourself, you are also protecting your family, friends, colleagues and the larger community,” she added.
“I feel strongly that if we all choose to get vaccinated against vaccine-preventable diseases we will protect ourselves and our community from diseases that we should no longer have to be worrying about.”
- Feature Photos Courtesy of DCI: Laura Lynn Jackson, Coordinator, Child Health, Ministry of Health, the Minister of Health Kim Wilson, and Dr. Cheryl Peek-Ball, Chief Medical Officer, Ministry of Health