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Utilise free vaccines, health minister urges

Published:Thursday | April 26, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Alessandro Boyd, Gleaner Writer

HEALTH MINISTER Dr Fenton Ferguson has urged parents to use the services of the primary health-care system to get their children vaccinated.

Ferguson stressed the importance of raising public awareness on vaccination to the targeted risk groups and the island's population during the launch of Vaccination Week in the Americas at the Medallion Hall Hotel, St Andrew, on Tuesday.

"The observance of Vaccination Week in the Americas is a time to evaluate our position with respect to immunisation, not just at the level of the ministry, but also at the individual level," Ferguson said.

Vaccination is one of the safest and most cost-effective interventions in health and has resulted in great benefits to humanity. The Americas and the Caribbean have been world leaders in disease elimination through vaccination, having been the first in the world to eradicate poliomyelitis and eliminate measles and rubella.

"This could not have been achieved without the dedication and hard work of our public-health team, mainly the public-health nurses, community midwives and community health aides," Ferguson said.

Ensure full immunisation

The minister said it was important to secure these gains for further improvement, and urged parents to ensure that their children are fully immunised from an early age as it was a requirement to attend school.

"Secure our children's health, well-being and future by taking this simple, but very important step. As we partner with the Ministry of Education to ensure improvement in the coverage for the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, this will be a reminder to all that vaccinations are required for children to attend school," Ferguson added.

Through events like Vaccination Week, Jamaica is moving closer achieving the goal of 100 per cent immunisation coverage for children. Last year, the country achieved 100 per cent coverage for tuberculosis (BCG), 92 per cent for polio, diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus (DPT), and 88 per cent coverage for MMR, to name a few.

See Vaccination Week feature.