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Vaccinate for Life

The Cayman Islands joins other countries in the Americas in commemorating the ninth anniversary of Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA) from 23 - 30 April. Countries will be celebrating under the theme "Vaccinate your Family- Protect your Community".

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.

Regionally, great progress has been made in immunisation coverage. For example, endemic measles has been eliminated in the Americas, with the last case reported in 2002. Polio was also eradicated in the American region in 1994, and the last case of endemic rubella in the region was reported in 2009.

Other vaccine-preventable diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, and pertusis have decreased significantly in incidence. In the Cayman Islands some of the local immunisation successes include the fact that Cayman has had no cases of polio since 1957, no cases of diphtheria since 1983, no cases of whooping cough in the last decade, no measles since 19901 and no cases of rubella since 2000.

"Nevertheless, we must not become complacent. 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," noted Health Services Authority Immunisation Programme Manager Alice Jane Ebanks.

"If countries fail to achieve high immunisation coverages, the diseases will ultimately come back," she warned.

Cayman has a vaccination schedule that offers protection against a range of serious illnesses such as liver diseases caused by the hepatitis B virus; severe vomiting, diarrhea 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.

The current childhood immunisation schedule recommends that, by the age of 15 months, infants should have received the following vaccines, which offers protection against 13 diseases:

  • Three doses of Hepatitis B; (at birth, 6 weeks, 9 months)
  • One dose of BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin - TB vaccine); (at 6 weeks)
  • Three doses of Rotavirus ; (6 weeks, 4 months, 6 months)
  • Three doses of the combined DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough), IPV (inactivated polio vaccine) and Hib (Haemophilus influenza type b) at 2, 4, 6 months)
  • Three doses Pneumococcal vaccine (Prevnar) at 2, 4, 6 months)
  • One dose of Varicella (chickenpox) & booster of Pneumococcal (at 12 months)
  • One dose of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella); & a booster dose of combined DTaP and Hib. (at 15 months)

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

In addition, if someone has never received any vaccines, they 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.

For information regarding immunisation, contact your private pediatrician or the following district health centres:

Public Health Department:244-2648

West Bay Health Centre:949-3439

Bodden Town Health Centre:947-2299

East End Health Centre:947-7440

North Side Health Centre:947-9525

Faith Hospital, Cayman Brac:948-2243

Little Cayman Clinic:948-0072

For further information contact: Cornelia Oliver