Week promotes vaccinations

Under the auspices of the Pan American Health Organization, Cayman will take part in Vaccination Week, from 23-30 April.

Every year, PAHO co-ordinates the western hemisphere’s promotion of immunization for vulnerable groups, which include children, women of childbearing age and the elderly.

In Cayman, the Public Health Department will be promoting vaccination through the media and public service announcements.

The World Health Organization has set a goal to eradicate polio by the end of 2005, and has also named measles as a target disease for elimination.

The PHD’s CI$2,500 campaign will focus on education, explained Alice Jane Ebanks, immunization program officer with the department.

‘It’s very important that you make people realize they really need to get immunized. Because you don’t see these diseases very often, people can’t become complacent,’ she said.

Usually, about 93 to 95 per cent of those eligible for vaccinations in Cayman receive them, though Mrs. Ebanks would like to see higher numbers.

The tiny east Caribbean countries tend to get very high rates of vaccinations, she added, noting that Montserrat reaches 100 per cent.

Last year’s slogan, ‘Vaccination – An Act of Love: Love them, Protect them, Immunize them’, will again be used.

Each country can decide what to emphasize during the week, Mrs. Ebanks explained.

‘We decided to focus on education, to heighten awareness,’ she said.

The PHD is organizing radio and television spots, and will be putting up displays in district health centres, the Cayman Islands Hospital and Faith Hospital, all of which will provide free vaccines.

In addition, the department will be sharing all promotional materials with Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital and paediatricians in private practice.