The Ministry of Health and Wellness is advising travellers to countries known to have circulating measles virus to ensure that they are adequately protected. At this time of year when Jamaicans are preparing for travel overseas, the Ministry is reminding citizens to ensure that they and in particular, their children, are fully vaccinated against measles with the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine.
As at May 17, 2019 the countries in the Region that had reported confirmed measles cases were: Argentina, the Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, USA, Uruguay, and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
Jamaica’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie notes that “Measles is a highly contagious viral disease affecting mainly children. Infection spreads rapidly even before symptoms are evident and therefore has the potential to cause outbreaks. Vaccination is the only way to prevent the spread of measles. Two doses of the MMR vaccine are needed to provide full protection against the disease.”
“The Ministry is seeking the full cooperation of parents and guardians to ensure that their children receive the two doses of the MMR vaccine, especially before travelling to a country that is known to have reported cases of measles.” Dr. Bisasor McKenzie added.
Jamaica has prioritized MMR vaccination for children 10 years old and younger and the Ministry of Health and Wellness provides vaccines free of cost to children.
Adults over 40 years of age are likely to be immune to measles given that the virus would have been circulating in Jamaica during their childhood, and several measles vaccination campaigns have been conducted since then to ensure the protection of the population at that time.
Persons who are unsure of their vaccination status should contact their healthcare provider or visit a health centre. Persons, who develop a fever and rash, especially after visiting a country known to have measles cases, must contact their healthcare provider or visit a health centre immediately.
Yellow Fever Vaccine
Additionally, the Ministry wishes to remind persons travelling to countries known to have circulating yellow fever virus that vaccination against yellow fever is a requirement for travel. The Yellow Fever vaccine is provided at a cost at the Montego Bay Type V Health Centre in St. James and the Slipe Pen Road Comprehensive Health Centre in Kingston.
Since the recent breakout of measles in the Region of the Americas, there has been no case of measles in Jamaica.