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'High risk' VI implementing border control measures for measles

- BVIHSA CEO Dr Ronald E. Georges said VI @ high risk of importing measles
Persons at risk from possible imported cases of measles in the Virgin Islands will be children who have not as yet completed their vaccination course and adults who never did. Photo: UNICEF
CEO of the British Virgin Islands Health Services Authority (BVIHSA), Dr Ronald E. Georges in an exclusive interview with Virgin Islands News Online (VINO) says the Virgin Islands (VI) is now putting system in place—from a border perspective—to protect its citizens and instituting advance measures to control the disease if it indeed lands in the Territory. Photo: VINO/File
CEO of the British Virgin Islands Health Services Authority (BVIHSA), Dr Ronald E. Georges in an exclusive interview with Virgin Islands News Online (VINO) says the Virgin Islands (VI) is now putting system in place—from a border perspective—to protect its citizens and instituting advance measures to control the disease if it indeed lands in the Territory. Photo: VINO/File
Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease caused by the measles virus. Measles can be dangerous, especially for babies and young children. Photo: Wikipedia
Measles is a highly contagious infectious disease caused by the measles virus. Measles can be dangerous, especially for babies and young children. Photo: Wikipedia
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – With global measles cases soaring in places like the United States, Latin America and Europe, local health authorities have been on the alert and encouraging the populace to get vaccinated as a matter of priority.

With that, CEO of the British Virgin Islands Health Services Authority (BVIHSA), Dr Ronald E. Georges in an exclusive interview with Virgin Islands News Online (VINO) said the Virgin Islands (VI) is now putting systems in place—from a border perspective—to protect its citizens and institute advance measures to control the disease if it indeed lands in the Territory.

VI has high outsider traffic – Dr. Georges

According to the BVIHSA CEO, while the Territory has had no recorded cases for several decades, “The VI is at risk of imported cases from affected countries given the high traffic from North America and Europe.”

In a public statement on April 25, 2019, Minister for Health and Social Development, Honourable Carvin Malone (AL) had indicated that the VI’s last recorded case of measles was in 1990 and he noted that educational efforts and expanded programme on immunization will continue in an effort to provide the relevant vaccines in the prevention of all forms of diseases where possible.

While Dr Georges was adamant that vaccination was the best preventative measure, this can only work if vaccination is up to date for parents and children.

“Persons at risk from imported cases will be children who have not as yet completed their vaccination course and adults who never did,” he told our newsroom.

According to the BVIHSA CEO, “It is important for parents to ensure that their children are up to date with their vaccination and if adults are unsure of their status or have to complete their vaccination they can visit any public clinic.”

Border Control

Further, while it was noted that the Territory has 90 to 95 per cent coverage for recommended childhood vaccines, there is still a matter of importance to protecting borders, should the disease reach the shores of the Territory.

Dr Georges revealed that his organisation will be working along with the necessary agencies, which include the Environment Health Office, to bring the issues under control. 

“Steps are to work with border agencies to identify cases quickly and take appropriate measures to contain,” he noted while indicatiing some surveillance measures will also be implemented.

Just last April, as part of its health awareness drive, the Territory observed Vaccination Week 2019 under the theme “Do your part. Protect your community." However, Dr Georges further noted that the “Caribbean has very high measles vaccine coverage rates.”

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