The Cayman Islands join other member states of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), i.e. North, Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean, for the 13th anniversary of Vaccination Week in the Americas (VWA).
This year, Vaccination Week takes place from 25 April to 2 May. The theme: “Boost Your Power! – Get vaccinated”, encourages people to empower themselves by seeking out correct information about how vaccines help to fight disease.
“Since its inception in 2003 more than 519 million individuals of all ages have been vaccinated globally during campaigns conducted as part of this initiative” said Immunisation Programme Coordinator Nurse Angela Graham.
“In the Cayman Islands we 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 them 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.”
In this regard the Public Health Department has organised special clinics to assist any children with missed vaccinations, and will be contacting parents to schedule appointments.
Emphasising the importance of children being vaccinated, Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kiran Kumar notes: “We offer a rigorous vaccination programme and our schedule includes procurement of vaccines approved by PAHO. All vaccines used in the Cayman Islands are safe, and are administered in accordance with guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and PAHO.”
The current childhood immunisation 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, nine months)
• One dose of BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin – tuberculosis vaccine); (at six weeks)
• Three doses of rotavirus; (six weeks, four months, six months)
• Three doses of the combined DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (whooping cough), IPV (inactivated polio vaccine) and Hib (haemophilus influenza type b) at two, four, six months)
• Three doses pneumococcal vaccine (Prevnar) at two, four, six months
• One dose of varicella (chickenpox) and a booster of pneumococcal vaccine (at 12 months)
• One dose of MMR (measles, mumps and rubella); and a booster dose of combined DTaP and Hib (at 15 months)
• Children also need booster doses of combined DTaP and IPV and a second dose of MMR 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 11-12 year-old girls and older children if they did not get the vaccine at this age.
In addition to childhood immunisation, vaccines to prevent serious infectious diseases for adults are also available including boosters for tetanus and diphtheria, as well as the annual influenza vaccine.
The Premier and Minister of Health Hon. Alden McLaughlin congratulated the Public Health Department for its success in achieving over 95 per cent immunisation coverage of infants against diphtheria, whooping cough , tetanus, haemophilus influenzae and polio consistently over the years.
Mr. McLaughlin stated: “I was pleased to learn that the Department has received PAHO awards several times during the past 15 years with the latest being in 2014 for excellence in public health surveillance from the Caribbean Public Health Agency”.
“On behalf of my Ministry I assure all residents that we will continue to facilitate the introduction of any new vaccines recommended by WHO and PAHO. Our goal is to prevent the reintroduction of previously eliminated diseases and, at the same time, prevent new and emerging ones.”
“While we continue to provide the necessary resources for the continued success of the programme, I remind all parents and caregivers that you too have a major responsibility in ensuring that your child’s or children’s vaccinations are up to date. Keep in mind that vaccination is an act of love. Help yourself and your children to boost your power,” he added.
For information regarding immunisations 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
a. Special immunisation Clinics
Walk in clinics have been scheduled on a first come first serve basis for children with missed vaccinations as follows:-
• West Bay Health Centre: 1 May 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
• Bodden Town Health Centre: 1 May and 2 May 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
• Public Health Clinic, CI Hospital: 29 April 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
1 May 2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
b. Childhood Immunisation Schedule