#Kingston, August 29, 2018 – Jamaica – With the 2018/19 school year slated to begin in September, the Ministry of Health is urging parents and guardians to adhere to the schedule outlining clinic appointments for the vaccination of children.
In a recent JIS News interview, Acting Director of Family Health Services in the Ministry, Dr. Melody Ennis, noted that clinic appointments must not be avoided, because of the deleterious effects that vaccine-preventable diseases can have on a child. The effects are amputation of an arm or leg, paralysis of limbs, hearing loss, convulsions, brain damage and death.
“They also need to be reminded that, under law, they are liable if they willfully prevent their children from being vaccinated,” she said.
The Immunization Regulations of 1986, which were amended in 2013, as well as the adolescent and adult vaccination policies, stipulate that all children under seven years of age must be adequately immunized prior to school entry. This applies to children entering day care, nursery, preschool, basic school and primary school, whether publicly or privately operated.
Immunizations mandated by law for children prior to school entry are at birth, the BCG vaccine for protection against severe forms of tuberculosis; at six weeks, three and six months old, polio; pentavalent vaccine for protection against diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus (locked jaw), haemophilus influenza type B, and hepatitis B.
Others are 12 and 18 months old, the MMR for protection against measles, mumps and rubella, and booster doses for polio, diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus are given at 18 months old and four to six years old to complete the schedule. The human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination for protection against cervical cancer is now being offered to grade-seven girls as part of the national immunization schedule. However, the vaccine is not mandatory.
Dr. Ennis acknowledged that Jamaicans have taken the safety and well-being of their children seriously, with a significant number of children from birth to six years being comprehensively immunized against the 10 targeted diseases. They include influenza type B, hepatitis B, tuberculosis, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, poliomyelitis, measles, rubella and mumps.
“It must be emphasized that 95 per cent coverage is required to adequately protect the individuals and the nation,” Dr. Ennis informed.