PAHO Director calls for continued immunization to avoid risk of other outbreaks during COVID-19 pandemic

Dr. Carissa Etienne, PAHO Director

The Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, today urged for vaccination programs to continue during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If we fall behind on routine immunizations, particularly for children, we risk outbreaks, thus overwhelming hospitals and clinics with preventable diseases in addition to COVID-19,” Dr. Etienne said.

In a press briefing updating the situation, Dr Etienne said, “until a vaccine for COVID19 is available, immunizations can and must be delivered by the health services alongside the response” to the pandemic. If countries fail to do this, “the impact on our health systems would take months or even years to reverse,” she added.

A priority for countries, she said, is to “vaccinate to protect health workers, the elderly and vulnerable populations from other respiratory infections, such as influenza and pneumococcus, which can lead to more hospitalizations and may be harder to diagnose in the context of COVID-19.”

Maintaining capacity in vaccination is also key to ensuring the Region’s “readiness to deliver the vaccine for COVID 19” when it is developed, Dr Etienne noted.

“Vaccination Week (this week) in the Americas is a time to promote and celebrate the life-saving power of vaccines.  In 2020, we approach it with an acute sense of urgency,” she said, adding, “History has shown us that after wars or epidemics if we allow large gaps in immunization coverage, vaccine-preventable diseases like polio and measles can re-emerge.”

While measles was eliminated in the Americas in 2016, “As coverage rates dropped we faced outbreaks in Venezuela, Brazil, and Colombia and in a few states in the US. As we speak, at least three countries are working to contain measles outbreaks in Latin America,” the PAHO Director said. “Efforts to control measles must continue, safely, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, or we risk erasing more than 20 years of progress.”

As of April 27, more than one million cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the Americas, and 60,211 people have died. “We are seeing a growing number of countries with ongoing community transmission: 3 in North America, 7 in South America, 1 in Central America, and 1 in the Caribbean,” Dr. Etienne said.

She said further that PAHO continues to work closely with member States to strengthen surveillance.

“Based on everything we know, it’s vital that countries reinforce protective measures now and use all tools available to them. This includes proven public health interventions like social distancing, testing, isolating cases and contact tracing,” she noted.

To help countries plan and make decisions on which vaccines to prioritize during the COVID-19 pandemic, PAHO has issued detailed guidance, which considers both potential risks and the burden of the pandemic on health systems. This guidance recommends that governments prioritize those vaccines for diseases that have an imminent risk of expanding in that area, such as measles, and those for other respiratory infections, such as flu and Pneumococcus.

Regarding vaccination efforts in the Region, the director said “our teams at PAHO are supporting every step of the process. We are training health workers and educating communities. We are working harder than ever to ensure that this pandemic doesn’t disrupt vital immunization services.”

Click here to watch the full opening statement by Dr. Etienne at the PAHO Covid-19 press briefing.


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  1. out of south city
    May 5, 2020

    When some of our people join the ranks of Higher Education, they sit on their brain and can’t use the mind that they were born with. They cannot reason for themselves but are taught to carry out the work of the powers that be. It really baffles me to see how much ignorance( the absence of wisdom) is displayed. Some of these institutions exist for a particular reason/s. We now hear how Africa was being targeted with this virus but some of the African leaders stood against that. They always have Africans in mind as their Guinea Pigs.
    My people, BE WARE OF VACCINES!!!!!!! They are DANGEROUS!!!!!!

  2. Not my Dogtor
    May 5, 2020

    Most of these “so called” Dogtors are buy-out people. Saying what they are told. I guess they sleep well at night.

  3. Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
    May 3, 2020

    Carissa, if you are a medical doctor, it would be very wise for you to think prior to making erroneous statements, and comments.

    You must be aware by now that the coronavirus; “COVID-19”  is a new virus which has caused this pandemic; with that in mind, unless you are not aware; how can you suggest immunization when the virus is not yet fully understood, there is no vaccine, no medical treatment or cure for this disease as of today, the 3rd day of May, 2020?

    I would expect such erroneous fallacy to be spoken by some illiterate peasant: Statistics reads 68,089 people in America as of today are dead; killed by the virus.

    If one could immune someone from the virus don’t you think it would be implemented?

    Immunization is simply  the process of rendering a subject immune, or of becoming immune.

    Called also inoculation and vaccination. The word vaccine originally referred to the substance used to immunize against an infectious disease.

    There is no vaccine for COVID-19.

  4. rOOTS
    May 2, 2020

    Mam why don’t you recommend healthy eating and exercise for your people. We do not want WHO and PAHO vaccine. Get lost!!!

  5. Big dog
    May 1, 2020

    Immunize who you your clown

    May 1, 2020


  7. May 1, 2020

    The only chipping happening is that dance that doesn’t make you spill your drink. I swear, people believe the most ridiculous conspiracy theories.

      May 1, 2020


    • Gary
      May 4, 2020

      The new Priesthood in these times are the people from the Medical Institutions, the days of the religious or spiritual Priesthood is now becoming a thing of the past. When Government officials and Leaders go to the podium to address their citizens alongside these Leaders are their Chief Medical Doctor or someone with medical credentials from The Medical Institution. They are even carry credentials such as Director and Director General, is it not time to ask ourselves how this Priesthood sprang up to became the advisers to Governments, they are all over the media with their sermons telling us about what is the best practices we should accept to stay healthy and prevent diseases using their prescribe methods and programs. Wow.

  8. Annon
    May 1, 2020

    Carrying out the agenda aren’t you. You are selling out your people. Perpetuating the lies to lead the lambs to slaughter. You need to be first in line. Hopefully others will be fearful enough to not show up. The war against forced vaccination and chipping is on.

    • Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
      May 3, 2020

      Anon you are off base the same as that woman; I am shocked that she wrote such foolish comments; I can conclude she might not be the author of the garbage written.

      Perhaps she is not aware the issue is COVID-19; of which there is no vaccine; since her logic seems to evade commonsense.

      Carissa probably believe we are dealing with the common cold, or a common flue for which a vaccine has already developed.

      As far as I am concern she seem oblivious to what is COVID-19!

      But then again when we are dealing with a Dominican one should not be surprised, because we have all the answers to everything, to all the worlds problem; nevertheless, we are unable to solve the problems ruining our country!

      It is unfortunate that someone who posses such tremendous scientific, and  academic intelligence made such foolish comments.

      How can one immunize people without a vaccine to inoculate them?

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