MOHW to establish digital immunization database; launches national vaccine exercise

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The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) donated an assortment of equipment to the Ministry of Health and Wellness to create a national immunization database. The equipment was handed over during a ceremony held at the ministry on Monday, April 25, 2022. Pictured from left are: Dr. Pearl McMillan, Chief Medical Officer; the Minister of Health and Wellness, the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville; Carlyne Smith-McKenzie, National PAHO Consultant/Communicable Diseases and International Health Regulations; and Nurse Ruth Bastian, Expanded Programme on Immunization Coordinator. (BIS Photo/Lindsay Thompson)

The Minister of Health and Wellness the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville officially launched the national Electronic Immunization Register, which coincides with the 20th Annual Vaccination Week in the Americas under the theme:“Are you fully vaccinated? Get All Your Shots.”

And, during the week ending April 30, 2022, the ministry will be mounting an
aggressive drive to get children and college students vaccinated through its local exercise under the theme: “Go for Gold 242: Let’s get vaccinated.”

The data will be compiled digitally and trained personnel will have the ability to use the register and retrieve the immunization history of children born after 2015.  Eventually, the register will be updated for a more comprehensive database.

In order to achieve this move in technology, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) donated the equipment during a handover ceremony held at the ministry on Monday, April 25, 2022.

Also present were Dr. Pearl McMillan, Chief Medical Officer; Nurse Ruth Bastian, Expanded Programme on Immunization Coordinator; Charlene Bain, Administrator for Community Health Services; Dr. Phillip Swann, Registrar; Carlyne Smith-McKenzie National PAHO Consultant/Communicable Diseases and InternationalHealth Regulations; and other healthcare officials.

Dr. Darville underscored the importance of the vaccination push and its significance throughout The Bahamas: This, he said, is to “provide a partnership with all countries in the region to enhance immunization awareness and increase immunization coverage in order to achieve
and maintain the absence of vaccine-preventable diseases in the region of the Americas.”

Dr. Darville noted that this is a “critical objective” for The Bahamas, as Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 Pandemic have impacted the national immunization coverage, typically provided for residents.

“These two shocks have impacted (the normal routine of) immunization and we call on Bahamians to get their children vaccinated. We are moving from analog to digital to help create policy when it comes to immunization,” Dr. Darville said.

The vaccines being offered are against Measles, Rubella, Tetanus, Chicken Pox, Congenital Rubella Syndrome, and Polio, among others, confirmed Nurse Bastian. The shots are being administered at the Flamingo Gardens Clinic. This Electronic Immunization Register is a new initiative offered to eight countries since 2018. Training and data entry began in 2019 and the public clinics will have the ability to use the register and retrieve the immunization history for children born anywhere in the country.

PAHO/WHO applauded the work of the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Expanded Programme on Immunization for its strides and continued progress in the prevention of vaccine-preventable diseases. PAHO representative Ms. Smith-McKenzie said that the organization is also “pleased to have been able to support the ministry’s vaccination programme particularly with the donation of equipment and the development and implementation of the Electronic Immunization Registry.”

Donated were:

  • Two (2) Monitors – 60 inches and 45 inches for the conference room to assist with training;
  • 10 Laptops;
  • 20 tablets for data collection and input into the Electronic Immunization Registry;
  • 15 Cell phones;
  • 10 Wi-Fi boxes;
  • One (1) Office printer; and,
  • One (1) binding machine.

The World Health Organization, in 2022 estimated that vaccinations saved three to four lives each year. In 2019, vaccines prevented 2-3 million deaths and more than 1 billion children were vaccinated in a 10-year time period. Dr. Darville thanked PAHO for facilitating this “aggressive drive” in getting Bahamian children vaccinated.