By Kadeem Joseph
As Antigua and Barbuda and other countries in the Americas continue to seek ways to boost Covid-19 vaccinations, the Director of the Pan American Health Organisation, Dr Carissa Etienne is calling on governments to invest more in ensuring healthcare providers are armed with the right information, especially in spaces where the issue of vaccines has been politicised.
Dr Etienne noted that healthcare workers remain trusted sources of information for patients.
“So, we encourage countries, especially those in the Caribbean where vaccinations have been highly politicised, to train their health workforce at all levels, so that they have the information that they need to answer the questions of patients and to help them understand the benefits of vaccines,” she implored.
Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the handling of the crisis has been the subject of political debates in Antigua and Barbuda, with the major political parties all calling on each other to end the politicisation of the health and economic emergency.
Dr Etienne is also calling on regional governments to continue to make the necessary preparations so that doses of vaccines can be distributed expeditiously, adding that based on lessons from across the region, the success of vaccination campaigns “rests on having the proper structures in place to rollout doses at scale”.
“Now is the time to expand cold chains and invest in health systems. Especially as financial institutions and donors alike have expressed their willingness to support countries to make these improvements,” she added.
The Director of PAHO further advised that now is the time to hire and train health workers to ensure that vaccines can be administered in a fast manner.
According to the latest dashboard, issued on October 11, Antigua and Barbuda has fully vaccinated 44,405 individuals while 10,030 have only received their first dose of a jab.