Vaccines are an integral part of any child's routine health care. As Cayman's population hails from all over the world, besides following the Cayman Islands Immunisation schedule, schedules from other home countries are also adhered to and followed. Although Covid-19 has brought many changes and prevented most residents from travelling, health professions advise against putting off or delaying vaccinating children.
The Cayman Islands has one of the lowest incidences of vaccine-preventable diseases in the world, and diseases such as polio have been fully eradicated.
While immunisations are not mandated by law in the Cayman Islands, they are highly recommended by the Public Health Department, who has oversight for monitoring and administering immunisations in the country. According to UNICEF, vaccine-preventable diseases are one of the major causes of illness and long-term disabilities among children in both industrialised and developing countries. The prevention of paralytic polio in hundreds of thousands of children worldwide since the beginning of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative is just one example of the effectiveness of vaccines.
Immunisations are one of the most effective ways of protecting your child's health from the very beginning of their lives. Protecting your baby from over 16 serious diseases with the help of vaccines is a powerful defence that is tested, safe and effective. Presently children ages five and up can also receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for protection from COVID-19.
There are cases when Public Health officials have recommended deferring a vaccination due to medical reasons or if a child is experiencing ill health. You may contact the Public Health Department (Tel: (345) 244 2648), who provide routine vaccinations to children free of cost, or speak to a paediatrician if you have any questions about vaccinating your children — prices often vary between clinics for the same immunisation. See a list of highly recommended clinics offering paediatric services at the bottom of this article.
Childhood Immunisation Schedule 2023 in the Cayman Islands
Vaccine 101 - An Explanation of the Vaccines Offered in the Cayman Islands
Hepatitis B (HEP B):
Hep B is an infectious disease, spread by exposure to infectious blood or body fluid. It affects the liver and can cause acute and chronic infections. Many people have no symptoms at first, but later symptoms include vomiting, yellowish skin, tiredness, dark urine and abdominal pain.
Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection which generally affects the lungs. It is contagious and spreads from one person to another through the air. Symptoms include chronic cough, difficulty in breathing, fever and weight loss, amongst others.
Diphtheria is a bacterial disease that spreads easily and occurs very quickly. It mainly affects the upper respiratory system, including the nose and throat. Symptoms include sore throat, fever, swollen lymph nodes and general weakness.
Often called Lockjaw, Tetanus is a bacterial infection that causes painful muscle spasms and can lead to death. Symptoms include painful muscle contractions, difficulty in breathing and intermittent muscle spasms.
Pertussis (Whooping Cough) (DTAP):
Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the lungs and airways which can cause severe breathing problems and even death in small children.
Polio is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. Symptoms may range from nonparalytic fever and throat infection, to limb deformity and complete paralysis.
Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (HiB):
HiB is a bacteria responsible for causing severe infections like Meningitis, Pneumonia and epiglottitis — a life threatening problem which causes swelling in the throat. Depending on the type of infection, symptoms may include headache, stiff neck, cough, breathing problems, fever and muscle pain.
Rotavirus is a very contagious disease that most commonly affects infants, young children and those who work or live with children. Symptoms include severe diarrhoea, vomiting, fever and abdominal pain.
Human Papilloma-Virus (HPV):
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection. Highrisk strains can lead to cervical cancer and mouth and throat cancers. A symptom of HPV is genital warts; however, most people with HPV don’t show signs of infection.
Immunisation Top Facts
- The Cayman Islands follows immunisation standards set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
- The last case of Polio in Cayman was in 1957. The last case in the Caribbean was recorded in 1982. The last case of Measles in Cayman was in 1990. The last case of Rubella was in 1996.
- DTaP and HPV vaccines are often administered to children by school nurses at schools in Cayman, but only when written consent from a parent has been received. The Cayman Islands Public Health Department administers immunisations for free (or a parent may take their child to a private physician).
- If a parent chooses not to immunise their child, they must sign a legal document accepting full responsibility if their child contracts a vaccine preventable disease. Schools in Cayman will request to see your child's immunisation record and a health screening report prior to enrolment.