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Stabroek News

Religious beliefs no excuse for refusing immunisation ­ MoH
published: Tuesday | March 22, 2005

Trudy Simpson, Staff Reporter

THE HEALTH Ministry warned yesterday that it will not accept religious reasons as the basis for refusing to get children immunised.

"Religious beliefs are not a reason for not getting a vaccine. We only accept medical reasons," said Dr. Karen Lewis-Bell, director of Family Health services.

Some parents' refusal to immunise children for religious reasons has been cited among constraints said to be hampering efforts to boost falling immunization rates.

In February, health officials raised concerns about flagging rates, which have fallen from 95 per cent to less than 85 per cent in some cases in recent years.

CAN BE PROSECUTED

Dr. Lewis-Bell urged parents and guardians to assist health officials in getting their children vaccinated and reminded them that they can be prosecuted under the law for refusing to get their children immunised.

She also said that health officials may have to extend the "Mop Up" campaign, which began two weeks ago.

The campaign aims to boost flagging immunization rates by targeting 15,000 children under two-years-old, who were not immunised. It was initially expected to be an eight week campaign, which would culminate with Vaccination Week, April 23-30.

But, "we might have to extend it into May to get the numbers," Dr. Lewis-Bell said. She said this may be necessary because delays prevented the programme starting on the selected date and because of the Easter holidays. She added the health officials are also continuing regular immunization schedules at the various health facilities.

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