With ongoing efforts to contain Covid-19 within the quarantine stations and isolation wards, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) remains committed to ensuring that other health services are maintained and enhanced.
Recently, MHMS had successfully completed its introduction and roll out of the Rotavirus vaccine across all provinces including the capital, Honiara. The roll out involved intensive trainings, building capacity of health workers around the administration of the rotavirus vaccines to infants as well as its safe storage to prevent spoilage and wastage. This also followed with distribution of the vaccine vaccines to health facilities across the country.
MHMS Permanent Secretary Mrs. Pauline McNeil stated with the completion of the roll out it is crucial that parents and guardians ensure that their babies are taken to nearest health clinics to receive the vaccine.
“The vaccine is recommended as two doses with the minimum interval of four weeks. The schedule is at age six and ten weeks and will be administered alongside other vaccines such as OPV, PENTA and PCV. Take note of this and ensure that your babies do not miss out of this vaccine”, highlighted Mrs. McNeil.
Mrs. McNeil acknowledged the MHMS staff and provincial health workers who had worked tirelessly to ensure the successful completion of the roll out. “I’d like to thank each and every one of MHMS staff and health workers who have committed to making the roll out a successful one especially at this trying times when the Ministry is also prioritizing containment of Covid-19 that is now in country”,
“I would also like to sincerely thank our partners, GAVI (International Organization established to improve access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries), UNICEF and WHO for financial and technical support rendered. Without your assistance we would not have reached where we are today with the vaccine”, stated Mrs. McNeil.
Globally Rotavirus is responsible for over 215 thousand deaths annually amongst infants and young children. In Solomon Islands, the rotavirus was first detected in 2014 during the diarrhea outbreak along the Guadalcanal plains and Honiara in the aftermath of the April flash flooding.
Sadly, the virus had resulted in the loss of around 27 lives most of whom were infants and young children with over 6 thousand cases of severe diarrhea and dehydration reported across the country.
Rotavirus vaccine is safe as WHO through the Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (Called GACVS) monitors ALL vaccines and continues supporting MHMS in monitoring the vaccine safety in Solomon Islands, a responsive Adverse Events Following Immunization Reporting System, as such there is no need for parents to be afraid to bring their children to receive the rotavirus vaccine.
MHMS however cautioned that the vaccine only prevents diarrhea that is caused by rotaviruses, which constitute 40 percent of all diarrhea cases. As such diarrheas caused by other factors will continue to occur so it is important that efforts to promote and continue practice breast feeding, handwashing, hygiene preparation of food, improved water and sanitation must continue.