Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 24, 2021 (SKNIS): After the successful launch of the National COVID-19 Vaccination Programme on February 22, 2021, Dr. Delores Stapleton Harris, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, said that full and effective implementation of the plan will rely on a good governance structure, given the range of responsibilities, personnel, and the responsiveness that will be demanded as the programme rolls out.
“In fact, we recognize the need to augment and support existing structures for the implementation of the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme,” she said on ‘Leadership Matters’ television programme on Tuesday, February 23, 2021.
Dr. Stapleton Harris added that in the public health system, a vaccination programme lessens morbidity and mortality caused by infectious diseases at the population level. The National Immunization Programme of St. Kitts and Nevis is aimed at providing safe efficient and effective administration of all necessary vaccines to the residents who indicate their willingness to receive it.
“The COVID-19 Vaccine therefore will be administered as part of this existing system,” she said. “Noteworthy also is the fact that relative to existing immunization programmes and policies the Ministry of Health makes policy decisions based on advice from the National Immunization Committee, which is subsequently implemented through community health services via the health centres within the Federation.”
The Permanent Secretary said that the National Immunization Committee was therefore tasked to support the Ministry of Health and the Health Emergency Operation Centre (HEOC) to deliver an effective COVID-19 Vaccination Programme that meets best practice and good governance.
“It is also responsible for managing vaccination procurement, storage and distribution under validated call chain conditions, immunization training, and providing communication materials about the vaccine to the public,” she said.
Dr. Stapleton Harris noted that the strategy aligns with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on the vaccine programme implementation.
The Ministry of Health along with the Office of the Epidemiologist will also play a pivotal role, she said. “The Epidemiological Unit will collect, analyse and public the immunization data during the rollout of our vaccine programme in the Federation, liaise closely with our regional partners such as CARPHA and PAHO, and the findings will ultimately perform further planning and policy development,” informed the Permanent Secretary.
Dr. Stapleton Harris stated that the Ministry intends to implement a comprehensive, robust communication strategy to guide the education campaign to inform the public and generate the expected demand for the vaccine.
“You would have noticed that such a campaign has commenced utilizing traditional and digital media to disseminate the relevant content,” she said. “Key stakeholders will be engaged to ensure success and in keeping with an all of society approach adopted at the beginning of the response.”