Rotavirus vaccine available

A vaccine for rotavirus, the most common cause of diarrhoea among children worldwide, will be available for infants from Health Services Authority facilities from 12 March.

Director of Primary Healthcare Services, Dr. Kiran Kumar, said it the first time authorities here have offered the vaccine for rotavirus, which is estimated to cause more than 600,000 child deaths annually.

In Cayman, the Public Health Care Department annually registers between 300 and 400 cases of gastroenteritis among children under five years. From these cases, about 20 to 25 per cent of children are hospitalised, he said.

The Public Health Care Department will be using RotaTeq, an oral vaccine that is administered to infants in three doses.

The first dose is given at six weeks, followed by second at four months, and the third at six months, explained HSA paediatrician, Dr. Marilyn McIntyre.

‘Vaccinations will reduce the number of hospitalisations due to rotavirus infections significantly, and will spare many children and their family’s undue suffering,’ she said.

A rotavirus infection can cause severe vomiting and diarrhoea, accompanied by fever and abdominal pain that can last up to eight days. These symptoms, in turn, can lead to life-threatening dehydration.

Public Health officials cited studies that show the vaccine to have caused a 96 per cent drop in gastroenteritis related hospitalisations after the third dose.

The vaccine will be offered at the George Town Public Health Clinic and all Grand Cayman district health centres.

It will also be available at Faith Hospital on Cayman Brac and the Little Cayman Clinic.

In a release sent to media, Health Minister Anthony Eden applauded the move, saying: ‘I am proud of the success of our immunisation programme. My ministry is committed to ensuring that every child has access to age appropriate vaccines, and government fully supports the continual upgrading of our immunisation schedule.’

FYI

For more information, contact your doctor, or the Public Health Department on 244-2648.

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