Free vaccinations for children this week

The Public Health Department is holding free vaccination clinics this week to ensure that children’s inoculations are up to date.

The department will be contacting parents this week to schedule appointments for their children’s missed vaccinations.

The clinics are being held as part of the Pan American Health Organization’s Vaccination Week in the Americas.

“Since its inception in 2003, more than 465 million individuals of all ages have been vaccinated during campaigns conducted under the framework of this initiative,” said immunization program coordinator, Nurse Angela Graham.

This year’s theme is “Vaccination your best shot” and was chosen to encourage people to protect themselves and the region against the importation of polio, measles and other vaccine preventable diseases in the other parts of the world in light of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Dr. Kiran Kumar, the Health Services Authority’s medical officer of health, said, “We only procure vaccines approved by the Pan American Health Organization and all vaccines used in the Cayman Islands are safe. They are administered in accordance with guidelines from the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization.”
Over the years, the Public Health Department has developed and maintained a vaccination schedule with a coverage rate of 95 per cent for most vaccines. However, despite this achievement, Ms. Graham said there are still some children who do not complete their vaccine schedule, thus leaving them at risk.

The current childhood immunization schedule recommends that by 15 months, infants should have received the following vaccines: three doses of Hepatitis B, one dose of BCG or Bacillus Calmette-Guerin, three doses of Rotavirus, three doses of the combined DTaP diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, IPV or inactivated polio vaccine, and Hib Haemophilus influenza type B, three doses Pneumococcal vaccine, one dose of Varicella and one dose of MMR or measles, mumps and rubella.

Children also need booster doses of combined DTaP and IPV and second dose of MMR at school entry 4 to 5 years old. For children 6 months and older and all adults, an annual Influenza vaccine is recommended. A vaccine for Human Papillomavirus, known as HPV, is offered to 11-12 year old girls and older children if they did not get vaccine at this age. Vaccinations to prevent infectious diseases for adults are also available, including boosts for tetanus and diphtheria and the annual influenza vaccine.

Walk-in vaccination clinics will be held at the West Bay Health Centre on April 30 from 8:30 am to 1 p.m., Bodden Town Health Centre on April 30 and May 2, from 2-4 p.m., and the Public Health Clinic, Cayman Islands Hospital on May 2 from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information, call the Public Health Department on 244-2648.