Under Jamaica’s Public Health Act of 1974 and The Public Health (Immunization) Regulations of 1986, all children under the age of seven must be immunised before entry into school.
Schools under the regulation include nurseries, day-care centres as well as basic schools.
In an interview with JIS News, Director, Family Health Services/PROMAC Coordinator at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Simone Spence, said if children were not properly immunised according to the immunisation schedule, they can visit their nearest health centre or they can visit their private physician.
“Immunisation prevents children from becoming ill with serious infectious diseases that have risk of complications and long term-side effects. So, until these diseases are eradicated, every child that is not immunised, is, therefore, at risk of getting these complications if they catch the actual infectious disease,” she stated.
Children are normally vaccinated against Tuberculosis, Diphtheria, Tetanus, Poliomyelitis, Mumps, Measles, Rubella, Pertussis (also known as whooping cough), Haemophilus Influenza B and Hepatitis B.
The earliest immunisation is BCG at birth to 6 weeks and then there are a series that follow at two months, four months, six months, one year, 18 months and four years.
Dr. Spence said Jamaica’s immunisation programme has had a significant impact in getting rid of infectious diseases, such as measles, polio, whooping cough and others.
“The Caribbean, including Jamaica, has led the world in terms of the elimination of these diseases through our vaccination programme. For example, the last case of polio in Jamaica was in 1982 and our last case of measles was in 1991,” she noted.
Meanwhile, Dr. Spence is encouraging principals and teachers to know the immunisation schedule and what is expected at the different age of the children within their schools.
“In addition, request the child development passport or immunisation cards during the registration period for schools. Facilitate the visit of the health teams to review this documentation of children regarding their immunisation status… and most importantly, help to enforce the regulations by not admitting students who are not appropriately immunised for their age,” she urged.
She added that immunisation is one of the keys to good health, and encouraged parents to vaccinate their children and ensure that they are up to date with their vaccines.
Immunisation is available free at all Government health clinics.