Vaccination key to keeping diseases at bay

| 20/04/2011

(CNS): With many childhood diseases now a thing of the past in the Cayman Islands the public is being reminded to keep up with immunisation programmes to mark the ninth annual vaccination week. Vaccination Week in the Americas is an unparalleled effort led by the countries and territories of the region to strengthen their immunization programmes. Since its inception in 2003 more than 323 million individuals across the age spectrum have been vaccinated as a result of the initiative. The purpose of the campaign is to strengthen the routine programme and improve vaccination coverage rates.

Despite the success in Cayman that vaccines have had in eradicating many diseases parents need to remain vigilant when it comes to immunising children to stop them from coming back.

“We must not become complacent,” said Health Services Authority Immunisation Programme Manager Alice Jane Ebanks. “Despite such successes in immunisation, some children still do not complete their vaccination schedules, leaving them vulnerable. Parents must check against the schedule to ensure that their children are up-to-date with their immunizations.”

She explained that when countries fail to achieve high immunisation coverage diseases will ultimately return.

In Cayman vaccination has led to the elimination of polio since 1957. There have been no cases of diphtheria since 1983, no cases of whooping cough in the last decade, no measles since 1994 and no cases of rubella since 2000.

The local vaccination schedule offers protection against a range of serious illnesses such as liver diseases caused by the hepatitis B virus; severe vomiting, diarrhoea and dehydration caused by rotavirus; tuberculosis (infection of the lungs); haemophilus influenza b disease which can cause serious infection of the brain, spinal cord, blood or other organs; diphtheria (throat infection); tetanus(lockjaw); pertusis (whooping cough); paralytic disease(polio); measles that can cause blindness; mumps; rubella and chicken pox .

In addition to the child immunisations, Public Health also offers vaccines to prevent serious infectious diseases for adults. The most common ones are boosters for tetanus and diphtheria (a combined shot) and the annual influenza (flu) vaccine.

Those who have never received any vaccines can visit Public Health Clinic and get the necessary immunisations that are appropriate for their age and health status. Health advice is offered to travellers to various countries at the Public Health Clinic. Vaccines such as yellow fever and typhoid fever are available as recommended for the specific destinations.

Vaccination Week runs from 23 to 30 April when countries will be celebrating under the theme “Vaccinate your Family- Protect your Community”.

Anyone who wishes to have their children vaccinated or requires immunisation for themselves can contact the district health centres or their private paediatrician

See immunisation schedules and health centre numbers and Health Minister’s messagebelow

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