Get your children immunised

Children entering primary school for the first time in the Cayman Islands in September are required to undergo health screenings, which include determining if they have had all their necessary immunisations.

Screenings must be done before the new school year begins in September, according to Joanna Rose-Wright, school health coordinator nurse.

The screenings are free of charge and are conducted by the Public Health Department. They involve a review and administering of immunisations, as well as growth and development assessment, vision and hearing tests, a dental assessment and obtaining personal medical history.

Appointments can be made at the school the child will be attending. Nurse Rose-Wright reminded parents and guardians that they need to accompany their children to the health screenings and should bring the child’s immunisation record with them.

“Vaccines will be offered to children whose immunisations are not up-to-date. A health screening certificate will then be issued, which is to be taken to the child’s school,” Nurse Rose-Wright said.

Parents can also have their child’s health screenings done by a private doctor, as long as they ensure that he or she completes the school health screening forms provided by the Public Health Department.

Completed health screening forms should be handed in at the John Gray Medical Centre up until 31 August, between 8.30am and 4.30pm. After that date, the forms can be taken to the Cayman Islands Hospital’s Public Health Clinic. Once the record has been received, a health screening certificate will be issued, which then must be taken to the school that the child is entering.

The Public Health Department recommends that all children in Cayman be immunised against 13 vaccine-preventable diseases.

These include: tuberculosis, diphtheria, tetanus whooping cough, poliomyelitis, haemophilus influenza B infections, hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox pneumococcal disease and rotavirus.

In the coming school year, a new Human Papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccination is expected to be available to female pupils in government high schools and also at the Public Health Department. This vaccination will be free of charge to girls aged between 11 and 17, with their parents’ permission. It is not a mandatory vaccination.

Dr. Kiran Kumar, medical officer of health at the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority said that, in any given year over the past two decades, about 90 per cent of Cayman’s population was immune to the vaccine-preventable diseases listed on the public health body’s schedule and approximately 98 per cent of school-entry age children are vaccinated.

Families that have moved to Cayman recently should check their child’s immunisation record against the Public Health Department’s immunisation schedule to find out if the child has had all the required shots.

The current childhood immunisation schedule recommends that, by the age of 15 months, infants should have received the following vaccines:

Hepatitis B: Three doses at birth, six weeks and nine months

Tuberculosis: One dose of Bacillus Calmette-Guerin, the TB vaccine, at six weeks

Rotavirus: Three doses, at six weeks, four months and six months

Three doses of the combined DTaP at two, four and six months and booster at 15 months

Polio: Three doses of inactivated polio vaccine at two, four and six months

Haemophilus influenza type B: Three doses of Hib at two, four and six months and booster at 15 months

Pneumococcal valent-7) Prevnar: Three doses at two, four and six months

Chickenpox: One dose of chickenpox, or Varicella, and booster of Pneumococcal at 12 months

Measles, mumps and rubella: One dose at 15 months

For more information, pick up a vaccination schedule at the Cayman Islands Hospital, speak with your private medical practitioner, or call your district 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; or Little Cayman Clinic on 948-0072.

For more information, contact Nurse Rose-Wright at 244-2734 or 244-2648, or John Gray’s medical centre at 949-2501.