The Cayman Islands joins with other member states of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to observe the seventh anniversary of Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA). This year's Vaccination Week runs from 25 April to 2 May.
Immunization Programme Manager Nurse Alice-Jane Ebanks explained that this year, the theme is "Vaccination: A Family Affair" with a sub theme, "Immunization Begins with Health-Care Workers: Get Vaccinated." Accordingly, Cayman's promotion for this year will be on immunizing both the whole family and health care workers.
For the past two decades, immunization coverages for most of the vaccines were over 90 percent. Nurse Ebanks emphasized that this was achieved through hard-work and dedication of the department's staff. Despite the sound programme, even today the struggle continues to track and immunize children who fail to come in for their vaccines. She accordingly urged all parents to learn more about childhood immunization and ensure that their children are fully immunized against serious infectious diseases.
To increase awareness about immunization, the Public Health Department (PHD) is organising promotional activities such as TV and radio appearances by public health nurses, poster displays, and stickers for children. "Vaccination Week in the Americas is all about expanding and strengthening national immunization programs," Nurse Ebanks said.
And while Cayman has for years offered residents a wide range of immunizations, last month the PHD was pleased to add the Rotavirus vaccine to the childhood immunization schedule. Studies have shown this vaccine to be between 63 and 74 percent effective in preventing gastroenteritis (diarrhoea and vomiting).
Next in line for introduction into the childhood schedule is the pneumococcal vaccine. The Department is awaiting supplies from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).This vaccine protects infants and children against infections such as bacteraemia (blood poisoning), meningitis, pneumonia, upper respiratory tract infections, ear infections and sinusitis caused by bacteria known as pneumococci. The Human Papilloma virus vaccine is also being reviewed for possible early introduction.
While less focused than childhood immunization programmes, adults-including health care personnel-have been consistently vaccinated against serious infectious diseases. As early as 1988, the PHD introduced Hepatitis B vaccine for health care workers and later made the vaccine available to other essential services workers such as police, fire and prison officers.
In addition, a weekly adult immunisation and travel health clinic is held in the PHD to offer required vaccinations. Commonly used adult vaccines include boosters for tetanus and diphtheria (a combined shot) and the annual influenza vaccine. A wide range of additional vaccines such as Pneumococcal, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis A, Meningococcal, measles, mumps, Rubella, whooping cough, and chickenpox are available. Even adults who have never been previously vaccinated can be immunized as appropriate for age and health.
Travel vaccines vary according to destination, and travellers should allow sufficient lead time, possibly several weeks or even months, to complete their requirements and enable their immunizations to become effective.
For assistance regarding immunization, residents should contact a private medical practitioner or the following health centres:
- Public Health Clinic on 244-2648;
- West Bay Health Centre on 949-3439;
- Bodden Town Health Centre on 947-2299;
- East End Health Centre on 947-7440;
- North Side Health Centre on 947-9525;
- Faith Hospital, Cayman Brac on 948-2243,
- Little Cayman Clinic on 948-0072.
The current childhood immunization schedule recommends that by 15 months, infants should have received the following vaccines, to protect them from 12 vaccine-preventable diseases:
- Three doses of Hepatitis B (at birth, six weeks, nine months);
- One dose of BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin or TB vaccine) at six weeks;
- Three doses of Rotavirus (at six weeks, four months, six months);
- Three doses of the combined DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis (whooping cough), IPV (Inactivated Polio Vaccine) and Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) at two, four, and six months;
- One dose of Varicella (chickenpox) at 12 months;
- One dose of MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) and a booster dose of combined DTaP and Hib at 15 months.
|Vaccine ? Age >||Birth||6 weeks||2 mths||4 mths||6 mths||9 mths||12 mths||15 mths||4 – 6 yrs||14 – 16 yrs|
|Hepatitis B||Hep B||Hep B||Hep B|
|Bacillus Calmette-Guerin -BCG|
(for tuberculosis (TB)
|Diphtheria, Tetanus, acellular Pertussis||DTaP||DTaP||DTaP||DTaP||DTaP||Td|
|Haemophilus influenzae type b||Hib||Hib||Hib||Hib|
|Influenza - Yearly||6 mths & older|
|Measles, Mumps, Rubella||MMR||MMR|
|Vaccine ? Age >||17 – 26 yrs||27– 49 yrs||50 – 59 yrs||60 – 64 yrs||> 65 yrs|
|Tetanus and Diphtheria (Td)||Everyone , 1 dose every 10 years or 5 yrs in case of contaminated injury|
|Influenza – yearly||For high risk||I dose yearly|
|Pneumococcal 23–valent||People with specific medical conditions – 1–2 doses||Everyone 1 dose|
|Varicella ( Chickenpox)||People who have not had the vaccine or the disease – 2 doses|
|Meningococcal||People with specific medical conditions; people living in residential accommodation e.g. students|
|Measles, Mumps, Rubella||People who have not had the vaccine or disease 1–2 doses||People who have not had the vaccine or disease – 1 dose|
|Hepatitis B||Health Care Workers, other high risk groups and anyone who wants protection from Hepatitis B – 3 doses|
|Travel Vaccines||Varies by destination – Consult Public Health Dept or your doctor|
Additional information about VWA, as well as National Infant Immunization Week (NIIW), a US event that is part of VWA, and childhood vaccination, is available from CDC's National Immunization Programme at www.cdc.gov/nip/events/niiw/default.htm. Information on VWA is available at www.paho.org/English/DD/PIN/vw07press.htm.