Observing Vaccination Week in the Americas
The Cayman Islands joins other member states of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), i.e. North, Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean, for the 14th anniversary of Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA).
This year, Vaccination Week takes place from 23-30 April. The theme “Go for the Gold - Get vaccinated” was chosen to build on the momentum leading up to the Summer Olympic Games in Brazil, in August 2016.
“Since its inception in 2003, more than 580 million individuals of all ages have been vaccinated during campaigns conducted as part of this initiative” said Cayman’s Expanded Programme on Immunisation Manager, Nurse Angela Graham. “As a matter of priority, we will continue to promote vaccination through advocacy, education and communication activities during this week”, Nurse Graham added.
Over the years the Public Health Department has developed and maintained a robust vaccination schedule with a coverage rate of 95 per cent for most vaccines. Despite this achievement, Nurse Graham notes that: “there are still some children who do not complete their vaccine schedule thus leaving themselves and other vulnerable groups at risk. We are encouraging parents to make and keep appointments with health care providers to ensure their child is up-to-date on all shots.”
To this end, the Public Health Department has organised a special Saturday clinic to be held on 30 April at the Public Health Department to assist all children needing vaccinations, including those with missed/outstanding doses. The parents will be contacted to schedule the appointments. In addition, all adults needing Tetanus boosters, health care workers needing vaccines and people who are planning overseas travel within the next 3 weeks are invited to attend. Vaccines will be given on a first-come first-serve basis.
Emphasising the importance of children being vaccinated, Acting Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez noted: “The Cayman Islands offers a rigorous vaccination programme. Our schedule includes procurement of vaccines approved by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). All vaccines used in the Cayman Islands are safe and are administered in accordance with guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) and PAHO.”
The current childhood immunization schedule recommends that, by the age of 15 months, infants should have received the following vaccines, which offer protection against 15 diseases:
•Three doses of hepatitis B; (at birth, six weeks and nine months)
•One dose of BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin – tuberculosis vaccine); (at six weeks)
•Three doses of rotavirus ; (six weeks, four months and six months)
•Three doses of the combined DT&P (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough), IPV (inactivated polio vaccine) and Hib (haemophilus influenza type b) at two, four and six months)
•Three doses pneumococcal vaccine (Prevnar) at two, four and six months
•One dose of varicella (chickenpox) and a booster of pneumococcal (at 12 months)
•One dose of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella); and a booster dose of combined DT&P and Hib (at 15 months)
•A second dose of MMR is administered at age 3yrs.
•Children also need booster doses of combined DT&P and IPV and a second dose of Varicella (chicken pox) at school entry (four to five years). For children six months and older and all adults, an annual influenza vaccine is recommended. Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is offered to girls in Year 7 in the public schools with parental consent. Girls older than 12 years old are also offered this vaccine with parental consent if they did not get the vaccine in Year 7.
In addition to childhood immunisation, vaccines to prevent serious infectious diseases for adults are also available including, boosters for tetanus and diphtheria, Zoster vaccines against shingles, as well as the annual influenza vaccine.
For information regarding immunizations 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: Suzette Ebanks