JIS News

Minister of Health and the Environment, Rudyard Spencer, has made an appeal to parents to ensure that their children are adequately vaccinated.
Speaking at a post-Sectoral press briefing yesterday (June 4) at the Ministry’s downtown Kingston offices, Mr. Spencer noted that the law governing immunization would be used, if necessary, to prosecute persons who prevent children from being vaccinated.
“If we want to keep Jamaica free of measles, polio, rubella and other vaccine preventable diseases, we must get serious and implement the strategies which we know will work,” the Minister said, citing that an amendment of the immunization legislation will be undertaken to increase the fine applicable to those parents and care-givers who do not immunize their children/wards, as well as schools that are non-compliant.
The Minister informed that the present fine for non-compliant parents is $500 for each child or 30 days in prison.
“We believe that is inadequate, we believe there needs to be a serious fine so it can address the whole question of a deterrent and it is in that concern, we are asking to ramp up the fines,” he said, nothing that the full force of the law will be applied in the process. In addition, the Minister noted that schools should not accept children unless they are adequately vaccinated while urging school principals to contact the nearest public health department with a list of the names of those students who do not present their immunization cards to the institution.
The Minister implored that all children aged one year and over who have not yet received the first dose or second dose of vaccine for Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR), must be immediately taken to the health centres or their doctors to receive the vaccine.
He further noted that all basic schools, nurseries and day care centres must ensure that their children are vaccinated and recommended that operators get copies of the immunization cards and contact the local Health Department to verify the status and vaccinate children who need it.
Mr. Spencer reaffirmed that the immunization law requires all children under the age of seven years to be fully vaccinated for their age before being allowed to enter school. “I wish to advise that this is a very important issue (which needs the support of all) to ensure that all our children are vaccinated, because if not we run a very serious risk of exposing the entire population,” he said.

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