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 both in 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.
Although there have been a number of controversial vaccine-related headlines in recent years, immunisations are one of the most effective ways of protecting your child’s health from the very beginning. Protecting your baby from over 16 serious diseases with the help of vaccines is a powerful defence that’s tested, safe and effective.
“Cayman has a very transient population and we have visitors and residents who travel to countries that have higher incidences of vaccine-preventable diseases, so we strongly recommend that parents protect their children by following our immunisation schedule,” says Nurse Joanna Rose-Wright, Nurse Manager for the Primary Health Care Services, HSA.
Currently, there are four nurses who are assigned to all the public and private schools in the country. You may contact the Public Health Department (Tel: (345) 244 2734) or arrange to speak to a school nurse if you have any questions or concerns about vaccinating your children.
Nurse Joanna confirmed that there are cases when Public Health officials have recommended deferring a vaccination due to medical reasons, while a parent may refuse to immunise his or her child based on religious beliefs. Nurse Joanna further explained that occasionally a vaccine may also be deferred if a child is experiencing ill-health such as a high fever.
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.
Polio is a highly contagious disease, caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. Symptoms may range from non-paralytic fever and throat infection, to limb deformity and complete paralysis.
Haemophilus Influenzae Type B (HiB):
HiB is a bacteria responsible for causing flu like infections like Meningitis, Pneumonia and other throat infections. 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. It is usually harmless, but some high-risk strains can lead to cervical cancer. A symptom of HPV is genital warts; however, most people with HPV don’t show signs of infection.
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