Jamaica closing borders to Yellow Fever

Original Article: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/lead-stories/20160527/jamaica-bar-people-who-visited-countries-affected-yellow-fever

We have discussed a lot in class the implications of closing borders to travelers with disease, and whether that is a feasible preventive strategy. This is an incredibly relevant question, as news broke that Jamaica is closing its borders to travelers from countries where the Yellow Fever outbreak is raging. Travelers must present a certificate of vaccination before they are let back in. This measure was taken because Jamaica believes that the vector mosquito and endemic areas are too close for them not to take aggressive preventive measures.

However, as we have discussed many times, there are many unwanted repercussions to closing down borders. It creates a panic in endemic countries, and encourage illicit crossing of borders and travel that makes it much harder for epidemiologists and public health professionals to track down and contain infection spread. It also encourages underreporting of symptoms as people are afraid of the government interfering with their lives and causing problems. In this case, it would also beg the question of equity – is the yellow fever vaccine available to everyone traveling? In most cases, there seems to be an under-supply of the vaccine, and it may only be available to people of a higher SES, which is unfair to those who just don’t have access to the vaccine and thus cannot show proof of vaccination in order to be let back into the country. There are a whole host of issues associated with this policy, which has not proven to be useful in the past. We should really encourage governments to be more critical before they put policies like this into play in the future.

 

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