Although Jamaica continues to enjoy strong immunization coverage through the success of its Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) which began in 1977, the Ministry of Health is appealing to persons to ensure that their children are fully immunized for their age.
The appeal comes as the Ministry leads Jamaica’s observance of Vaccination Week in the Americas 2015 from April 25 – May 2, 2015 under the theme “Boost your power! Get vaccinated!” This is a call for persons to ensure that children are fully immunized against vaccine preventable diseases.
The success of the EPI has seen vaccine coverage ranging from the high 80s to 90s in recent times. In 2014 Diphtheria, Pertussis or Whooping Cough and Tetanus (DPT) coverage was 91%, Polio (OPV) was 93%, Haemophilus Influenzae type B (Hib) – 91%, Hepatitis B – 90%, Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) – 91% and Tuberculosis (BCG), 90%.
The Ministry plans to build on these gains and so as part of the observance will take the opportunity to increase awareness of the importance of being appropriately immunized for age.
Activities for Vaccination Week in the Americas 2015 include a church service to be held at the Boulevard Baptist Church on Sunday, April 26, 2015; The official launch on Monday, April 27, 2015 at the Maxfield Park Health Centre; a one day National Sensitization Workshop for Medical Officers of Health and Regional Technical Directors on May 1, 2015 and a National Sensitization Session for Education Officers and Development Officers in the Ministry of Education and Early Childhood Commission on April 28 and 29, 2015.
This is the twelfth year that Jamaica will be observing Vaccination Week in the Americas. The first Vaccination Week in the Americas was launch in April 2003 as an initiative of Ministers of Health of the Andean Region to improve public awareness about immunization and to improve vaccination coverage to prevent outbreaks.
Compulsory immunization for children begins at birth and continues until 6 years old. Vaccines can be accessed at no cost at Health Centres islandwide.