Acknowledging the measles outbreak happening outside the territory’s shores, the Ministry of Health is assuring residents that it is doing all that it can to keep the virus from entering the territory.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Irad Potter gave that assurance while noting that the last reported case of measles in the BVI was in 1997.
“What happened is that there was an ongoing outbreak of measles in the Americas and in the Caribbean and as soon as we actually gained it, we were able to catch most of the cases almost immediately and what we did was we started with school children and then we sorted the adults. There wasn’t a panic. But, the issue is, having worked so hard to become measles-free, we don’t want to have to deal with that again,” Dr Potter said in an interview with BVI News.
Measles Free Certification from WHO
As a result of keeping a clean record, the BVI was issued a measles elimination status certification from the World Health Organisation in 2015. To maintain this status, Dr Potter said the Ministry of Health has put a number of measures in place to minimise the likelihood of the virus reaching the territory.
“The situation for us is that because we were certified as being measles free, we are always on alert for any suspected case. So we have been working with the medical fraternity, all the clinics public and private to be on high alert. And if persons are travelling to those countries [with an outbreak of the virus], we would expect them to get their two doses of MMR (Measles, Mumps & Rubella) vaccine,” Dr Potter stated.
Vaccination Should be Priority
Israel, the Philippines, Ukraine and São Paulo in Brazil have been identified as countries currently battling with an outbreak of the virus. As such, the BVI has issued a travel warning to persons planning to visit those counties.
Dr Potter said that warning is another measure used by the ministry to keep travellers informed of potential risks within certain countries.
He further noted that residents should prioritise getting vaccinated.
“We are concerned from two aspects, there are going to have those persons who are at risk because they have never had measles before and they have never been immunised and while our population generally is quite receptive to controlling people who come in, we simply forget that we travel too.”
“The problem with measles right now is that a lot of people who are getting measles are people who were never immunised and we have a problem with people who refuse to get measles immunisation, period,” Dr Potter added,
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