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Vaccination push in Westmoreland

Published:Monday | January 16, 2023 | 12:09 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer


THE WESTMORELAND Health Services is campaigning against disease prevention, and urging parents and guardians to ensure that children under their care get the requisite vaccinations to guard against the contraction of diseases, including poliomyelitis.

Jamaica has seen two outbreaks of poliomyelitis, the first in 1954, then in 1957. In the 1980s there were reports of mild cases, which at the time were mostly detected in St James.

“We have no cases of polio in Westmoreland. We are on the campaign for disease prevention, for mitigation and so we want to remain alert to make sure that our children are adequately protected against polio,” said Dr Marcia Graham, the medical officer of health in Westmoreland.

“We don’t have any cases and we want to keep it that way,” Graham insisted while urging parents and guardians whose children are between 0-12 years old to take their children’s Child Health and Development Passport to be examined as a precautionary measure.

“We want to see those child health and development passports, we want to see your immunisation card, to make sure that (children) are adequately protected against polio and the other vaccine-preventable diseases,” Graham told last Thursday’s general monthly meeting of the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation.

According to her, the parish has been doing quite well in terms of disease prevention. However, she was not pleased with the level of immunisation for polio, mumps and rubella.

“We have noted that our polio coverage is a little below where we would want it to be. The same applies to our measles, mumps and rubella (diseases),” Graham disclosed.

She also shared that the administration of vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella are normally given when a child has reached their first birthday.

“Our health team is equipped to see if there are any gaps, so we are on alert because we want to prevent, not because we have any cases,” the medical officer of health said in reference to poliomyelitis.

In an abundance of care, Graham said nurses and other public health officers will be seeking to catch the attention of the parents through routine visits to schools across the parish, now that the Easter term has started.

“We will be visiting some schools to examine the Child Health and Development Passport, so we asked that whenever you hear that we are coming to your child’s school, make sure that those (child health passport) come to school with the students so we can review them,” she added.